The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has warned companies not to wait until an employee is injured before taking action to improve safety. The warning comes in the wake of an accident in Bolton, where a worker at a fabric firm was badly injured when he was flipped around a large rotating roller.
The dangers of manufacturing are well documented, with HSE figures revealing that over the past five years, an average of 31 workers died in workplace accidents each year. In addition, there were an average of more than 4,500 reports of major injuries and about 19,500 reports of injuries that kept workers away from work for three days or more.
In the textile industry specifically, the HSE has identified four main causes of injury, accounting for nearly 80% of all reported injuries:
- slips and trips account for almost 25% of all injuries
- manual handling/musculoskeletal injuries,
- being struck by moving or falling objects, and
- contact with moving machinery.
Moving machinery was the issue in the recent HSE case, where an employee was dragged around a large rotating roller after his clothes became caught as he was trying to straighten a crease on a roll of fabric.
He suffered cracked ribs and bruising to the side of his body.
Investigation and prosecution
Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard that there were no guards on the machine to prevent workers from accessing dangerous moving parts, and the emergency stop button nearest to where the employee was working was defective.
The company, Flameproofings Ltd, had carried out an assessment which identified the risk of workers’ clothes becoming entangled as a hazard, but had failed to act on this. It has since installed a new guard on the machine and changed its procedure for removing creases.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. In general terms this requires employers to take effective measures to prevent access to dangerous machinery, and to make sure the machine can be made safe if anyone does manage to gain access.
Flameproofings Ltd was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £3,600 in prosecution costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Emily Osborne said, “The worker was badly injured because his employer didn’t do enough to ensure he could not become entangled in the machine,” said HSE Inspector Emily Osborne, after the hearing. “Sadly, it took the injury of an employee for the company to realise it needed to take action to improve safety at the factory,” she added.
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.