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Worker pulled into manual metal working lathe

15 August 2022

KENT AUTO Developments Limited, a classic Mini car part manufacturing and engineering firm based in Romney Marsh, was fined after a worker suffered injuries after becoming entangled in a metal working lathe.

On 10 August 2020, the worker was completing the process of polishing brake drums rotating on a manual metalworking lathe. The worker was applying emery cloth by hand, a practice condoned by the company, when he was drawn into the machine which resulted in lacerations to his forearm and injuries to his neck and face. Similar occurrences in Great Britain have resulted in other serious injuries to workers such as severed limbs.

The incident was not reported to HSE, as is required under The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013, until three months after the incident.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the business had failed to implement a safe system of work in that employees had routinely polished brake drums with an emery cloth by hand on the lathe. This task is known to be dangerous due to the potential risk of entanglement of the cloth in the rotating parts of the lathe, which can result in serious personal injury. If the requirement to use emery cloth on a lathe is unavoidable, then tool posts and holding devices should be used.

At Folkestone Magistrates’ Court, Kent Auto Developments Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of The Health and Safety at Work etc Act. 1974 and Regulation 4(2) of The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 and was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £6,349.34 in costs.

HSE inspector Sam Brown said, “We still see incidents like this, where unsafe work practices with machinery lead to injury, despite the existence of specific guidance published by HSE.

“Workers coming into contact with machinery is the fourth biggest cause of workplace fatalities in Great Britain, with 14 people killed in the year 2020/21. Over 50,000 non-fatal injuries were reported by employers in the same year.

“Employers should ensure that measures are taken to prevent workers from sustaining injury, where it is evident that persons are at risk of becoming entangled in machinery. It’s important that, when people do get hurt, the relevant authorities are notified so that action can be taken to prevent recurrence.”