A submarine maintenance company has been fined after a labourer crushed his hand while working on a submarine refit project at Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth.
The 19 year-old worker had to have plates inserted to repair broken bones after his right hand was drawn into the rotating bar of a drum rolling machine whilst working for Thales Underwater Systems on 22 April 2012.
Plymouth Crown Court heard today (17 May) that the labourer had been working on the exterior of a submarine prior to the incident. He slipped on a wet floor and as he put his hands out to break his fall his gloved hand was drawn into a rotating bar of the drum roller, which was used to agitate contents of drums prior to mixing and dispensing of chemicals. He was hospitalised for three days for emergency treatment.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which brought today's prosecution, found that the metal fixed guard had been removed from the machine - a regular occurrence to enable the drum to be rolled with a valve already inserted to allow transfer of the drum content to the mixing equipment.
HSE established that Thales Underwater Systems Ltd did not conduct any risk assessments in relation to the operation of the machine, and that the company failed to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery by allowing removal of the fixed guarding.
Thales Underwater Systems, of The Bourne Business Park in Addlestone, Surrey, was fined a total of £50,000 and ordered to pay £15,236 in costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Georgina Speake said:
"This incident could have been prevented had the guard not be removed from the drum roller. Thales Underwater Systems clearly failed to ensure the safety of its employees, with painful consequences for the injured worker.
"The law clearly states that employers should take all reasonably practicable steps to protect employees from harm arising from their work. In the case of machinery, moving parts that could cause injury should be guarded or made safe so that people cannot come into contact with them."
Date 17th May 2013
Acknowledgement: HSE Website