HSE warns of the need to assess risks, – after worker is injured

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is urging manufacturing companies to conduct suitable risk assessments and adopt safe working practices when moving heavy products and equipment. This reminder follows HSE’s prosecution of a company after a worker was seriously injured when a commercial oven fell on him.

On 18 January, 2008 a 22 year-old employee of Caltherm (UK) Ltd, was helping to move an industrial steam-heated ‘DMT’ liquid oven weighing 800kg (over three-quarters of a ton) when the oven fell from the two pallet trucks that were being used to move it. He received three breakages to his left foot and five dislocated toes. The oven had been built, in the company’s premises on Rowhurst Industrial Estate, for the manufacture of glass.

Caltherm (UK) Ltd, of Newcastle-under-Lyme, was, on 9 December, 2008, fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,377 by Newcastle-under-Lyme Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to breaching section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

HSE inspector Wayne Owen said: “Insufficient safeguards existed for the protection of employees because no risk assessment had been conducted for the movement of ovens in the premises. Lack of information, instruction, training and planning for the movement of such heavy equipment, coupled with an unsuitable means transport, all contributed to an unsafe system of work which led to the accident.

“The worker’s injuries were sufficiently serious to cause some long-term discomfort and adversely affect his work capabilities. Safe working practices should clearly have been observed and suitable risk assessments undertaken.

“Many incidents could be avoided if companies ensured that they had established a safe way of tackling jobs and ensuring that competent persons are regularly assessing and minimising the associated risks.”

“HSE produces a wide range of guidance to assist companies that carry out lifting and moving operations to identify risks.”

Notes

1. 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 it is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

More information on risk management can be found on HSE’s website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/index.htm

HSE information and news releases can be accessed on the Internet http://www.hse.gov.uk/