A Nuneaton company has been fined £10,000 after an employee broke his neck when he was drawn into an unguarded machine. The 60-year-old worker was machining a piece of nylon when his overalls got tangled in a spindle moulder at a local company’s works.

The incident happened at the firm’s base on September 18, 2013, in Nuneaton. Magistrates were told that the machinist broke two bones in his neck, as well as a fractured right shoulder and a split ear which required stitches and plastic surgery. The accident led to the individual being in hospital for eight days and off work for ten months, but has since returned to work for the company.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation found the interlocks on the machine had been altered and left totally ineffective. The spindle moulder, which spins to cut material, should have been behind closed doors but the first lock on the door had been removed and put in the lock on the other side, fooling the machine into thinking the circuit was complete and it was safe to operate.

The company in question was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1,252 costs after pleading guilty to a breach of Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the hearing HSE inspector Elizabeth Hornsby said: “This was an horrific incident that left a man with multiple serious injuries.

“It was also an incident that could and should have been prevented.

“It is a basic premise of health and safety that workers should not be able to come into contact with dangerous moving parts of machinery.

“By failing to ensure that the interlocks were maintained, workers were put at risk, and one could have very nearly paid with his life.”

JCH Safety comment that it is vital that machines are only modified and altered by experienced and qualified experts who truly understand how to control hazards associated with equipment. Machines should be risk assessed to ensure that all hazards are controlled; keeping both operators free from harm and businesses safe from prosecution.  Each year many lives are destroyed by accidents and incidents that could be avoided in the workplace such as this one. There is no excuse for poor health and safety and this case demonstrates how the courts enforce breaches of health and safety legislation.

For assistance with all aspects of health and safety please contact info@jchsafety.co.uk