Machinery Guarding Fine

Machinery Guarding is an important control measure to prevent injury to workers using conveyors and other similar equipment. This case is yet another severe injury arising from inadequate guarding and predictable human actions (trying to clear a blockage).

Mason Animal Feeds Ltd (based in Co Armagh, Northern Ireland) has been fined £120,000 at Newry Crown Court after failing to provide adequate safety measures on a chain and flight conveyor used to move animal feed from the mixing plant to the bagging area. The company was found guilty following an incident in which a 17-year-old employee had his right arm dragged into the conveyor while trying to clear a blockage. His right arm and wrist were severely damaged, resulting in him now having very limited mobility in his hand and wrist.

There were breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (NI).

Speaking on behalf of the HSENI, Inspector Sean Keogh said:

Employers must ensure that all machinery is adequately guarded and that the employees are trained, competent and authorised to operate machinery.

It is also essential that employers provide health and safety information to their employees that is clear and easily understood.



Simply Put – Risk Assessments

‘Simply Put’. In this series, we’re going to be taking a simpler look at some of the key phrases and ideas we frequently come across in health and safety. – such as Risk Assessment.

At the heart of our company’s ethos is the desire to provide helpful, practical advice. Part of that comes from speaking in plain English and avoiding unnecessary jargon. However, at one of our recent training courses, we were struck by the fact that there are some words and phrases we all use without necessarily thinking about what they really mean. Continue reading

Process safety – COMAH Fine of £400,000

Process Safety issues (such as major gas releases or the loss of containment of highly flammable liquids) can create significant risks to health, safety, and to the environment. Refer also to our recent Process Safety blog. Following a substantial release of flammable butane gas from its plant, Total Lindsey Oil Refinery (LOR) has been fined £400,000.

The Magistrates’ Court in Grimsby was told that the leak happened during a planned maintenance shutdown that takes place every four years. One of the planned tasks during the shutdown (that involves processing units, pipework, vents and drains) was the connection of a new 1 km-long butane line between two of the processing units.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the contractor who connected the pipework had not checked the whole line to ensure it had been properly installed and all the valves were closed. Further to this, the pipework should also have been pressure tested before flammable substances were introduced, the HSE said. As a result, a high-point vent was left open and about 50 tonnes of butane leaked over a period of nearly four hours (in March 2016).

Process Safety

Continue reading

Serious Fire Safety Breaches leads to Prosecution

Serious fire safety breaches have led to a Scarborough hotel being prosecuted. Owing to the poor safety conditions that were evident, a Prohibition Notice was issued that prevented the use of the upper floors. An enforcement notice for remedial work to be completed was served with a deadline date that was missed by two months.

Fire Safety Officers from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (NYFRS) visited the building and identified a number of serious fire safety breaches, including:

  • No suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment (FRA) had  been undertaken
  • The existing fire alarm was inappropriate for the premises
    • it did not sound above the lower ground floor, meaning anyone sleeping in the rooms above ground floor would not have been alerted in the event of a fire
  • Numerous defective fire doors
    • not fitted with self-closers
    • lack of intumescent strips and smoke seals (which would allow smoke and fire to enter into the means of escape impeding anyone’s evacuation from the building
  • Fire doors held open with (what looked like) automatic hold open devices
    • these were not connected to the fire alarm system and so would remain open in the event of a fire
  • There were fire separation issues in storage rooms that led to means of escape and which contained ignition sources
  • There was inadequate routine maintenance or testing of the fire alarm, emergency lighting and firefighting equipment
  • There was no training of staff including the manager

Continue reading