Health and Safety Executive
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Huddersfield firm fined for safety breach

A West Yorkshire manufacturing firm has been fined after an engineer lost part of a finger while test running an unguarded power press.

Metal Closures (Huddersfield) Ltd was prosecuted after James Hill, a development engineer, was injured while helping to run and de-bug a new production line incorporating two power presses.

Dewsbury Magistrates' Court heard Mr Hill joined the team in mid-August 2010 to help resolve a number of teething problems. Although it was still at a development stage, the press line was already being used to produce up to 20,000 caps a day for whisky bottle tubes for a new business customer.

During the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution the court was told that on 24 August, the second press was tripping out regularly because of mis-feeds of partly formed caps being transferred from the first press. At one point the fault occurred again and the press tripped out causing it to come to rest with the clutch disengaged but with the flywheel still running.

The engineer went over to the unguarded press and pulled the crushed caps out of the machine tools with pliers and then inserted his hand into the mechanism to discover what was causing the mis-feeds.

At the same time, a technical manager had gone to the production line. He did not see the engineer crouched by the press and went over to the control panel to reset a number of buttons. The press started up again catching the Mr Hill's right index finger in the tools and severing it just below the second knuckle.

After the hearing HSE inspector John Micklethwaite said:

"Power presses are inherently very dangerous machines, as everyone in the manufacturing industry knows.  Metal Closures allowed themselves to be drawn into a situation where they were trying to supply a product from a troublesome new press line before it had been properly de-bugged and before it had been handed over to production staff.

"Metal Closures failed to apply normal safety standards to the production power presses. They should have been adequately guarded and technicians should not have been able to work on them until it was safe to do so."

Metal Closures (Huddersfield) Ltd, of Tandem Industrial Estate, Wakefield Road, Huddersfield, admitted breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £1,795 in costs.

There were five deaths and more than 550 major injuries in the manufacturing sector in Yorkshire & the Humber according to the latest 2010/11 HSE statistics. A further 1,900 less severe injuries were also recorded.

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain's national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to prevent death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees."

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