Concrete manufacturer fined £10,000 after safety failings

hselogo300Ayrshire-based manufacturer Hillhouse Precast Concrete has been fined £10,000 for safety failings after worker Christopher Fay became entangled in a rolling machine used to flatten concrete in a mould.

The worker’s glove became caught in a metal D-ring connecting the roller to the handle of the machine drawing his arm into the roller as it turned and breaking it in two places.

Mr Fay needed two plates surgically inserted in his arm and physiotherapy treatment. He no longer has full strength in his right arm leaving him unable to lift heavy loads and has been left with scarring. He has since returned to work with a different company.

Kilmarnock Sheriff Court was told that around a month before the incident took place on 18 January 2010 at the company’s factory in Beith,  the machine’s handle was leaking hydraulic fluid and was replaced.

The original handle had a ‘hold to run’ mechanism fitted which prevented workers being exposed to the risk of the machine starting automatically, and therefore unexpectedly, if it was turned on remotely. However, the new switch did not have this safety feature and so was capable of being left in the ‘on’ position. No one had noticed the difference.

On the day of the incident the machine was restarted remotely by an employee who was unable to see Mr Fay and other staff working at the roller. Mr Fay was standing close to the machine and his glove was caught in the machinery.

HSE Inspector Mark Carroll said that while the offence came about through an inadvertent mistake rather than any deliberate failure to comply with standards, not replacing the control switch with a similar ‘hold to run’ device, removed the only safety feature to protect workers from the concrete roller starting unexpectedly.

“Hillhouse Precast Concrete Ltd has introduced measures and bought new equipment to avoid a repeat of the incident, but it could have been prevented by better consideration of how the repair work affected the safe operation of the roller,” he added.

This material is protected by copyright Ken Hurst 2013.


About Ken Hurst

Ken Hurst began his career as a journalist in London over 30 years ago, working on a range of publications before moving on to weekly newspaper production in the newly-independent Zambia of the 1970s. He returned to the UK where his work included spells on newspapers and magazines, before moving to head up Norwich Union’s corporate affairs division. In the 1990s he moved on to freelance, co-own and publish the B2B audio magazine Sound and front the BBC radio Yesterday’s Papers programme. There followed six years as Business Editor at Britain’s biggest selling regional daily newspaper, The Eastern Daily Press, where he led an award-winning team and for whom he still writes a weekly socio/political comment column. Subsequently, he was Group Editorial Director at CBM, responsible for its UK and US magazine output – including The Manufacturer magazine – research-driven industry reports and live events content. Currently he is Contributing Editor at Works Management magazine publisher Findlay Media and Chairman of the consumer publishing house TNT Multimedia Ltd. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the British Association of Communicators in Business.
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