Employers are legally responsible for employee safety and must do all they can to prevent employees from being injured in the workplace.
A seal and label producing company based in Kent was fined after a worker injured his hand in a printing press. Maidstone Crown Court heard that an employee of Fuji Seal Europe Ltd (FSE) was cleaning a blade on a printing press when his hand was drawn into the machine.
The employee suffered severe injuries; namely fractures and skin loss to fingers on his right hand which required a titanium fixture for his middle finger.
Role of the HSE
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides a framework for workplace health and safety in GB. The framework helps promote workplace safety and has proven to save many thousands of lives as well as preventing injuries at work. The framework has had a positive impact on workplace safety for the past 40 years and has reduced the economic and social costs of health and safety failures.
The HSE undertook an investigation on 11th March 2015 and found that FSE failed to provide a suitable guard on the machine which could have prevented the employee’s finger from being drawn into the machine. It is of reasonable workplace standards that a safety guard should’ve been fitted to the machine. Without the guard, the HSE noted that the system of work used was ‘flawed and unsafe’.
FSE pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court for breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998. Regulation 11 notes that:
PUWER requires that equipment provided for use at work is:
- Suitable for the intended use;
- Safe for use, maintained in a safe condition, and inspected to ensure it’s correctly installed and does not subsequently deteriorate;
- Used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction, and training;
- Accompanied by suitable health and safety measures, such as protective devices and controls. These will normally include emergency stop devices, adequate means of isolation from sources of energy, clearly visible markings and warning devices;
- Used in accordance with specific requirements, for mobile work equipment and power presses.
As a result of the breach, FSE was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay costs of £12,680.80. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the fine imposed on FSE totalled in its hundreds of thousands. Life and limb is crucial; if employers decide to disregard this, they’ll pay the penalty.