News added on 04.09.2019



Lack of safe system of work led to serious leg injuries

A worker’s leg was seriously injured in a welding machine. How did he get so close to the dangerous parts of the machinery, and what could his employer have done to prevent the accident?

The employee at manufacturing company Siddall and Hilton Products Ltd (SHP) was assisting his colleague to identify a fault with a mesh welding machine when the accident happened. He had opened the interlocked gate to the machine, which brought the machine to a halt, and then climbed on top of the part of the machine that creates mesh from welded materials, known as the PV, to identify a faulty wire. To release the wire, the weld head had to be lifted, so the worker’s colleague restarted the machine. However, the machine was in automatic rather than manual mode and the PV continued travelling towards the weld head, trapping the worker’s lower left leg. He suffered double compound fractures of his tibia and fibula, requiring surgery. He needed further surgery to fuse his ankle nearly two years later as a result of these injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive’s investigation found that SHP had failed to implement robust isolation procedures as part of a safe system of work for entry into and out of the machine’s hazardous zones.

SHP pleaded guilty to breaching its duty under s.2(1) Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees. It was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay over £4,800 in costs.

The worker was trying to identify a fault with the welding machine when the accident occurred. Dealing with issues such as faults and blockages often requires workers to access hazardous parts of machinery, so it is essential that proper procedures are in place for carrying out maintenance safely, such as isolating the power. The HSE found that this employer did not have such a safe system of work in place.

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