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How Safe is Your Workplace? Dangers Posed by Unguarded Machines
Posted by David Cant on June 17, 2014

YOU need to value Workplace Machinery Safety

An unguarded machine might actually seem innocuous, but the sad truth is that it could seriously harm to your workers. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), moving machinery can cause harm to users in the following ways:

  • Moving parts of a machine can draw in parts of the body of a person or they can also find themselves trapped between pulley drives, rollers, and belts
  • Sharp-pointed parts can cause cuts and other serious injuries
  • Unguarded parts of a machine can cause hazardous material to spill out causing burns or scalds
  • Unguarded machine parts can also crush people or parts of their body

With the above in mind, the HSE therefore advocates that every employer should ensure their machines are free from defects, have all the safeguards fitted, and regularly serviced and maintained. The HSE also asks every employer to ensure all static machines are properly installed and stable.

Despite all the health and safety risks, a Kent based company still exposed its workers to the dangers posed by unguarded moving machine.

Rochester Food Firm Fined for Safety Failings

For a second time now, a Kent-based firm-Veetee Rice Ltd- was found guilty of safety failings and fined by Maidstone Crown Court.

The company, not new in court, was in 2009 fined £140,000 for safety failings (unguarded machine injury) that led to the death of an employee. As if they did not learn anything from their past mistake, Veetee Rice Ltd, was on 27th May, 2014 ordered to pay £5,492 in costs and £30,000 in fines for exposing its workers to workplace dangers and for breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.

The case goes that on 27th March, 2012, Mr. Khalil Ahmed then an employee at the Rochester factory had 3 of his fingers crushed by a moving machine.

Ahmed was one of the employees that were working on a line where packets of rice were being labelled. At one point the boxes were not lining up properly for labelling and this saw Mr. Ahmed positioned to help turn the boxes to the right position. As work continued, the machine became faulty and the labeller ended on the unguarded rollers and as Ahmed reached out to pull it off, his arm was trapped and 3 of his fingers injured.

Later, as the HSE investigated the case, they realised that the labeller and the safety interlock that guarded the conveyor were deliberately defeated and this allowed workers to get dangerously close to the moving parts of the machine.

HSE’s Thoughts after the Hearing

Mr. Guy Widdowson, an inspector with the HSE said after the hearing that Mr. Ahmed is lucky to have suffered minor injuries, with no long term effects adding that in another case, it would have been worse.

He added that, sadly, Veetee Rice Ltd was one of the companies that would know better the effects of unguarded machines and he believed they should have learnt from the fatal accident that hit their company sometime back.

Mr. Widdowson further said that the food industry had the worst safety records compared to all other industries.

Our 2 Cents

Machine guards are important and critical elements and can be the only thing standing between life and death. The Kent Company should have known better and even learnt from their past mistake, unfortunately it was not so. Regular work safety and risk assessments are crucial in any company and employers should seek the services of qualified contractors to help with the assessments.

Don’t wait for a disaster to strike, call us today and we will immediately assess your company for health and safety risks.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Workplace Health and Safety, Workplace Safety

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