Worker’s severed hands lands firm in court
A recycling company based in Southampton has been in court after serious safety breaches led to one of its workers losing both hands while cutting metal strips on an industrial baler.
Ivan Menendez, who was working as an operative for Metal Processing Ltd, caught his hands in the shear point as a hydraulic-powered baler lid lowered and met the corner of the baler. The lid had a maximum sheer force of 76 tonnes, and severed his hands at the wrists.
He was rushed to hospital where doctors successfully reattached his hands, but he will require further treatment and will never regain full use of his hands again.
An investigation into the incident found that the system used to cut the strips of metal using the sheer point of the baler was fundamentally flawed – despite it being regularly used. There had been no direct line of sight between the operator who closed the baler lid and the hands of the worker loading the metal strips.
In addition to this, the 38-year-old had been shown what to do by practical demonstration and supervision, however he had not seen or read the operating manual which says that baling machines should only be operated by one employee.
HSE served an immediate enforcement notice on the company after the incident stopping any more hand-feeding of the metal for shearing on the baler by the workforce.
What was the outcome?
Metal Processing Ltd admitting breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, in connection with Mr Menendez’ incident, along with a further two breaches in connection with a separate lead poisoning incident.
It was fined a total of £35,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 in costs.
HSE inspector, Michael Baxter, said:
“This was a horrific incident which has resulted in lifelong debilitating
injuries for Mr Menendez. It has been understandably
devastating for him and his family.
“The immediate cause was an inherently unsafe system of work, which
was contrary to the manufacturer’s operating instructions and
the safety instructions on the machine.
“In addition there was also an issue with guidance provided by the
British Metal Recycling Association and I am glad to say they
are revising this to bring it into line with ours.
“When working with lead employers must ensure that they and their
employees have fully understood the requirements of the
Control of Lead at Work Regulations and the control
measures necessary to avoid contamination.”
If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email
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