Sapa Profiles UK has been fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,784.50 after being found guilty of safety breaches. An employee suffered finger loss as a result of these breaches. The worker from Derbyshire had his left hand trapped by loading clamps when attempting to repair an aluminium metal extrusion machine. The end of his little finger and his ring finger up to the second joint were both severed. The injuries forced him to stay off work for a total of eight months. He was unable to return to the same working role as before the accident so was reassigned.
The victim had entered the machine along with a colleague to remove a blockage, something which commonly occurred. They both accessed the machine via separate gates. When the colleague left and closed his gate, the machine restarted. The loading clamps began to operate with the victim still inside, trapping his hand and severing the fingers.
The investigation into the incident by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that the interlocks on the machine failed to isolate the power when opened. The company had also failed to carry out the requisite risk assessment on the machine before allowing the workers inside.
After the hearing at Chesterfield Magistrate’s Court, HSE inspector Lindsay Bentley said: “Sapa Profiles UK Ltd allowed access to the dangerous parts of the press, including the loading arms and clamps that injured the worker.
“Furthermore, the company’s risk assessment was not suitable and sufficient to ensure that the relevant dangerous parts of the Press would stop before a person entered the Press. Following the incident it took just 10 minutes for these interlocks to be reprogrammed.
“It should not have been possible to access a danger zone without the machine being safely isolated. It meant operators who had to frequently unblock the machine were routinely exposed to unnecessary risk. ”