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Engineering firm fined over safety breach

18 August 2015

A north east engineering firm has been fined for deliberately compromising the safety guards on machinery for production reasons.

South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard H. Mullins (Earby), which produces precision engineered components, used Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machines as part of the production process, including machining centres, milling machines and drilling machines.

The guards on the machines comprise of a sliding door which is interlocked. In February this year, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector found the interlocks had been deliberately defeated on three CNC machining centres and a CNC milling machine and the interlock was broken on a CNC drilling machine.

HSE prosecuting told the court this action allowed employees to access dangerous parts of the machines during automatic CNC operations leading to a risk of serious injury.

The court heard the company had been served with HSE Improvement Notices following an inspection in 2008 and a letter sent in 2012 highlighting similar issues.

HSE inspector Fiona McGarry said after the hearing: "The deliberate defeating of safety devices in any workplace is not acceptable. This company had received advice on two previous occasions in relation to the guarding standards on CNC machines and had not taken appropriate action.

"HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action against companies who continually flout health and safety law and put their employees at risk.”

Mullins (Earby) pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £13,500 with £1,439.10 costs.