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Manufacturing firm in court after employee suffers serious burns

A Highland manufacturing firm has been prosecuted after one of its employees suffered severe burns when tried to clear a blockage in an unguarded machine.

What happened?

Miroslaw Grzybowski had been working on a production line to heat-treat carbon fibres where the material is pulled through a series of ovens operating at increasing temperatures.

The 37-year-old noticed that the some of the material coming out of an oven had wrapped around one of the rollers. To fix the issue, he climbed through the barrier and began to move the material that had caught using his left hand.

However unaware that his hand was inside the machine, the deputy team leader instructed another operator to open the nip roller, narrowing the gap between two rollers and trapping Mr Grzybowski’s wrist.

He attempted to pull his left hand free using his right, but burnt that hand too. He was rushed to hospital with severe burns to the both of his wrists – which required skin grafts – and a first degree burn to the inside of his right forearm.

An investigation into the incident found that, although sufficient guarding had been installed on other production lines, the firm had failed to identify the risk on the line that Mr Grzybowski was working on.

Additionally, the firm had failed to put in place measure to ensure that access dangerous moving parts was prevented or controlled, or that the movement of those dangerous parts stopped before workers entered into the danger zone.

What was the outcome?

SGL Carbon Fibers Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £10,000.

HSE inspector, Mac Young, said:

“This incident was entirely foreseeable and therefore entirely preventable.
Where an employee is able to gain access to dangerous moving parts,
there is a risk of coming into contact with them. SGL Carbon
Fibers Ltd should have identified the risk posed to workers
on this particular production line and made sure it was
adequately guarded as they ad done on other lines.

“Suitable guarding coupled with adequate information, instruction and
supervision would have played a large part in avoiding this
incident. The injuries suffered by Mr Grzybowski were
further compounded by the high temperature
of the roller.”

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