A waste and recycling company has been fined £28,000 after a worker suffered crush injuries when his arm was caught in an unguarded moving conveyor belt at a site in Essex.
The 30 year-old employee, of GBN Services Ltd, who does not wish to be named, was working at their Harlow premises at Maple River Industrial Estate when the incident happened on 29th May 2013.
Colchester Magistrates’ Court was told that the worker was attempting to realign the in-feed conveyor belt on a newly-installed waste separating machine.
Power to the machine had been turned off and a protective guard removed to enable access to the belt.
However, after finishing the task, the worker reactivated the power to the machine and his left arm was drawn in between the two belts.
He suffered crush injuries but has now returned to work part time on light duties.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found GBN Services Ltd, which has five recycling sites in the South East, had failed to implement its own isolation and lock-off procedures at the Harlow site.
Following its investigation into the incident, HSE inspected the GBN site in Southend and had to issue three prohibition notices immediately halting dangerous activity, plus a notice requiring specified improvements.
The company had previously been served with a number of enforcement notices, including one for a similar guarding failing at a London site.
GBN Services Ltd, of Broomfield Road, Chelmsford, Essex was also ordered to pay costs of £2,777 after admitting to breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Following the case, HSE Inspector Corinne Godfrey said: “Incidents involving unguarded machinery are all too common and the onus is on employers to ensure safe and robust systems of work are in place to protect workers from dangerous moving parts of machinery.
“GBN Services failed to heed previous advice from HSE relating to conveyor guarding at its other sites.
“There are several deaths and 40,000 injuries each year due to incidents where workers have been using machines, and most of these are easily prevented.
“In this case, it was not even necessary to remove the conveyor guard to adjust the belt as the design meant the belt could be adjusted with the guard still in place.
“However, the worker was not aware as staff had not been trained to repair or maintain the machine.”