What Happens When a Defect is Reported but Not Made Safe?

SentencingGuidelinesFine-1Sefton Magistrates court handed down a £133K fine to waste management company Viridor when a worker’s finger was amputated by a defective set of cutters. The Viridor St Helen’s site dismantles small and large domestic appliances in accordance with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2013. Employee Alan Tabern was working on a line dismantling fridges using hydraulic cutters when they developed a defect and stopped working properly.

Tabern reported the defect, but the HSE investigation found that the procedure for isolating defective equipment and making it safe was not followed. Instead, the cutters were left close to where Tabern was working. When he attempted to move them out of the way, they cut off the top of the index finger on his right hand and partially severed another finger. If the defect reporting procedure had included some sort of clear visual sign identifying the fault and warning employees not to use the unsafe equipment this accident may have been prevented. SG World’s pre-use inspection solutions feature a safety checklist used in tandem with a high vis pass/fail notice display. This identifies that the equipment isn’t safe to use to workers and that equipment is being checked and reported to supervisors.  

Catherine Lyon, HSE inspector, said: “The life changing injuries caused by this accident could have been avoided if the procedure for the safe lock-off and isolation of equipment had been followed.

“Employers should ensure their safety procedures remain effective by monitoring their use and checking that they are being fully implemented.”

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