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Court fines medical firm after two workers injured

26 May 2015

A medical equipment manufacturer has been fined after two workers were injured by dangerous parts of machinery in separate incidents at its premises in West Sussex.

Welland Medical was prosecuted at Worthing Magistrates’ Court after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) established that both incidents occurred because of guarding failures on machines.

On the first occasion, on 29 June 2011, an employee from Crawley was left with a fractured finger as he attempted to make adjustments to material on a lamination line. His hand was pulled between two rollers because there was no guarding in place to prevent him from accessing the moving parts.

As a result HSE served two improvement notices requiring the company to take action to ensure the standards of guarding around potentially dangerous machines were raised to an acceptable level.

However, a second worker, also from Crawley, suffered cuts and bruising to her hand on 11 September 2013 when she trapped it between a fixed and a moving part while trying to clear a blockage.

Interlocks on the machine had been overridden, which HSE found had become common practice at Welland Medical and was effectively endorsed by the company.

Welland Medical, registered at Knaves Beech Way, Loudwater, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, was fined a total of £8000 and ordered to pay £6820 in costs after admitting two breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Stephen Green said: "Although the injuries sustained to these workers were relatively minor, they could have been much worse. This type of incident is still far too common despite the fact that workers have lost limbs, been disabled and, in the most severe cases, even lost their life because of inadequate or missing guarding.

"Both incidents were easily avoidable. Guards had been removed on the first occasion and interlocked guards were overridden in the second. Taking guarding away from machines or overriding systems to allow access to dangerous parts should be only carried out with considerable planning and with alternative safe systems of work in place to protect workers. It must not be routine, as was the case here.”