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Metal polishing firm fined after workers hurt

09-06-2012

A West Midlands metal polishing firm has been fined after two workers were injured in separate incidents just five months apart involving inadequately guarded machinery.

The first occurred at Farrelly's Metal Polishers Ltd. in Wednesbury on 1 March last year when employee Ubaid Rehman's left hand became trapped in an edge-polishing machine. He was attempting to reach an adjuster knob behind a pinch roller drive shaft in order to reposition the machine belt when his glove became entangled.

The second incident, on 12 August, saw Lee Rogers' right hand drawn into a tube polisher. He was removing a finished tube that had become lodged in the polishing head area when his glove caught on an abrasive belt, dragging his hand between the belt and the tube.

Mr. Rehman, 37, of Edgbaston, and Mr Rogers, 23, of Wednesbury, suffered severe injuries that required extensive skin grafts.

Mr. Rehman has poor grip and numbness in his left hand and Mr. Rogers is still being treated to restore tendons in his hand. Both are still off work.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the machine Mr Rehman was working on was completely unguarded at the working position, and that inadvertent contact with moving parts was a clear and ever present danger.

The machine had no emergency stop that could be reached by the operator, so Mr Rehman's workmate had to run to a control panel on the other side of the machine to stop it.

On 8 June, Warley Magistrates Court heard that, following the first incident and subsequent HSE intervention, Farrelly's made improvements to the guarding of this and other machinery. However, the guarding fitted to the infeed working position on the machine Mr. Rogers was operating was not adequate for work on the outfeed side of the machine. It became necessary for Mr. Rogers to walk round to the other side of the machine to dislodge heavy tubes that kept getting stuck.

Magistrates were told that the system of work, and the training and instruction that Mr. Rogers received on the tube polisher, was inadequate to deal with the risks created by using heavier, larger diameter steel tubing that he was processing for the first time on the morning of the incident.

Farrelly's Metal Polishers Ltd., of Newman Park, Western Way, Wednesbury, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for its guarding failures. The company was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay £6,800 in costs.

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