Keeping workers safe on the job should be the responsibility of all employers, yet we all know that not all companies follow through on this.
In a recent example, a British contractor was fined after an employee had to have his lower leg amputated as the result of slipping into an unguarded slurry mixer.
Stafford Magistrates’ Court was informed that contractor Colin Boon, 55, of West Street, Biddulph, Stoke-on-Trent, was in charge of a gang of road workers sealing a pavement on Wilson Road, Hanford, Stoke-on-Trent, when the incident took place in September 2012.
Worker Slipped And Leg Went Through Opening of Mixer
The injured party, a 36-year-old worker from Stoke-on-Trent, slipped as he climbed from a flat-bed lorry which was next to the mixer.
He put his left leg down to steady himself but it went through the unguarded opening of the mixer. The moving paddles in the mixer severely injured his lower left leg, resulting in amputation below the knee.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and came to the conclusion that the guard over the rotating paddles in the petrol-powered mixer had been removed the day prior to the incident and not replaced.
The man was in hospital for two weeks and eventually returned to work for the same employer, but has since moved job because of difficulties with mobility.
Company Failed Its Duties To Employees
Colin Boon of West Street, Biddulph, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined $10,141 and ordered to pay $12,134 in costs.
Speaking at the conclusion of the hearing, HSE inspector Alastair Choudhury noted, “This was an entirely preventable incident and a young man has sustained an injury that will have a huge impact on the rest of his life. Colin Boon failed in his duties to these workers. He was aware the guard had been removed and took no action to prevent use of the machine on the 13 September 2013.
“Guarding on machinery is there for a reason – to prevent people getting hurt. If it is removed, absent or defective, employers are putting employees and others at risk of injury or death. No commercial pressure to take these risks is justified and the potential costs of incidents far outweigh any savings in time or money.
“The mixer should not have been used once the guard had been removed.
“This incident could have resulted in even more serious injuries and today’s sentence sends a message to all employers to carry out work safely. HSE will not hesitate to take action against employers who fail to ensure the health and safety of workers.”
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: email@example.com.
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