Breaching safety regulations is an offence that can land firms of any size or from any industry in hot water with the authorities, leading to potential punishments including fines and even closure.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued another reminder following the conclusion of a case involving Berkshire Labels that saw an employee lose the first finger on his right hand in an accident. The unnamed man was working for the company in Hungerford in September 2011 when his hand was caught between two contra rotating rollers on a machine.
At the time of the incident he had been trying to clean a coating roller and had opted to remove it in order to make adjustments. He went on to make an attempt to brush off dried primer, but in the process of doing so he caught his hand.
In the immediate aftermath of the accident, the HSE launched an investigation and soon established that the machine had been without adequate guarding. It also found this had been the case for some time and may have contributed to the case, which resulted in the man being off work for six weeks.
HSE inspector Sharron Cripps said: "The employee's painful injury should not and need not have happened and was easily preventable had Berkshire Labels fitted guarding to prevent access to the rollers. Being drawn into machines because of inadequate guarding - and even a total absence of guarding - happens far too regularly. The importance of robust safeguards to protect workers gaining access to dangerous moving machinery cannot be overstated."
Berkshire Labels was fined £7,000 for its part in the incident after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. It was also ordered to pay more than £5,600 in costs.
Other firms working in a similar industry to the company may now be wise to consider their own performance when it comes to safety and make changes that reduce the possibility of them experiencing a similar fate.