The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

UK Courts highlight the need for conveyor guarding

Graham Marshall - Sunday, January 20, 2013

The importance of appropriate guarding of moving and rotating parts on equipment has again been highlighted by the UK courts following a successful prosecution of a Deeside company.

Mainetti (UK) Ltd has been fined £60,000 and ordered to pay costs of £21,668 after a worker had her hair ripped out by a poorly guarded conveyor belt.

Kelly Nield, 25, was working on a conveyor when her scarf and hair became caught in the chain and sprocket drive of the belt as she bent over to remove accumulated clothes hangers.

She sustained serious throat injuries, lost a substantial part of her hair and fractured a finger in the incident on 11 April 2009 at Mainetti (UK) Ltd in Deeside Industrial Park.

Miss Nield needed a number of operations and was in hospital for three months.

The incident was investigated by the UK HSE which prosecuted the company for serious safety failings at Mold Crown Court.

Mainetti (UK) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching three regulations under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (1998) and one breach under Regulation 3 of the Management of Health at Safety at Work Regulations (1999).

Although Mainetti had fitted a guard to the conveyor, it did not fully enclose the dangerous moving parts.

And there was no emergency stop button on the conveyor.

The company's risk assessment also failed to identify the dangers of entanglement in conveyors, and the need to keep hair and loose clothing secure when near the machinery was poorly enforced.

HSE Inspector David Wynne, speaking after the hearing, said: "These horrific, life-changing injuries sustained by Ms Nield could easily have been avoided if the right safeguarding measures had been taken by Mainetti (UK) Ltd.  There are well-known risks associated with working with conveyor belts. It is vital, therefore, that the risks are fully assessed and guarding provided to prevent access to moving parts. Where appropriate, emergency stop controls should be installed in readily accessible places.  Employers must also ensure that workers are properly monitored, supervised and trained when working with this sort of equipment."


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