Safety lock on accident factory machine was dismantled

By Gillian Crotty

A company has been fined after an investigation uncovered that the safety lock on a milling machine had been deliberately dismantled a couple of years before an employee accident.

An employee of Quickmatch Engineering Pressings Ltd almost lost his finger when he was attempting to clear metal debris from a large milling machine. He entered into the machine to clear the debris with a stick and accidentally activated a rotating cutter when his hand slipped. His finger was almost severed and the employee has since had two operations and has been unable to return to work.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation discovered that the interlock safety switch which prevents employees from entering the machine had been dismantled and deliberately disabled at least two years prior to the accident. A follow up inspection by the HSE after the accident revealed that the switch on the machine was still disabled.

HSE inspector Caroline Bird described the incident as "entirely preventable", and warned managers of such factories not to "turn a blind eye" when safety switches are overridden by employees. The company pleaded guilty to breaching Health and Safety regulations and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £1,121 in costs.

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