There have been numerous reports in the press of injuries to employees following incidents involving un-guarded machinery. Only last month, The Brothers Drinks Company was fined £23,000 in costs and fines after an employee caught his arm in a live machine and suffered a life threatening injury. Sadly, this is not a one-off occurrence. The HSE reports that injuries involving machinery account for 30% of all fatal injuries and almost 500 reportable accidents in the food and drink industry alone.
In industries concerned with food and hygiene these injuries can lead to serious consequences which could require entire product lines to be halted and stock to be destroyed or cleaned to prevent contamination. Whilst these costs are likely to be covered by insurance policies, there are also the additional management time and increased pressures to meet delivery quotas that cannot be insured.
The good news is that these types of incidents are very easy to prevent. The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) states that any dangerous moving parts of any machinery must be adequately guarded and that if any machinery is supplied with a guard then this must not be removed or tampered with. If Companies can ensure that their machinery is properly guarded then compliance with PUWER is straightforward and the safety of their employees should be improved as a matter of course.
One solution could simply be to implement a documented system whereby machinery is inspected before use, by a competent person, to ensure that guards are in place and that safety features are working and a complimentary system to report and rectify any defects. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy and doesn’t have to cost the Earth but it will provide a simple method of ensuring that the tools that you give your employees are safe and suitable to use.
If you would like further information on how to implement suitable systems and procedures to safeguard you and your employees please contact our Risk Management Team.
By Ian Clayton