Rugby, UK – Acenta Steel Limited has been fined £400,000 for a 2016 industrial accident in which a worker’s leg was crushed in the vice of an industrial band saw. An investigation by the local health and safety team discovered that safety guards fitted to the band saw when it was installed at the factory had been removed.
The Rugby Borough Council prosecuted and found that Acenta Steel had failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment of operating the machine without safety guards. In a written submission to the investigating officer, Acenta stated the safety guards had been removed from the band saw in order to avoid steel being caught on an overhead gantry and that the machine’s sensor rarely needed cleaning.
However, in the course of the investigation, the prosecution observed that the band saw suffered a sensor fault around four times a year. Acenta had having previously stated it was unaware of the problem which suggested to the prosecution that there was a failure to monitor the machine’s performance.
During the hearing, details of the industrial accident were brought to light. Returning to the factory floor after a break, the worker found the band saw’s warning light flashing red, indicating it had stopped working due to a fault. After consulting with a colleague, the worker believed the machine’s sensor had become blocked by steel filings and he climbed on to the band saw to clear it.
Unfortunately, while clearing the sensor, the worker noticed the machine’s vice had started moving and his leg had become trapped. The worker called out to colleagues for help, but by the time the emergency stop button had been pressed to cut power to the machine he had suffered several fractures to his leg.
Acenta Steel Limited pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees.