Lack of a Safe System of Work leads to fatal crushing

In many cases, the safety of workers using potentially dangerous equipment can be achieved by the use of a suitable Safe System of Work. Conversely, the lack of a safe system of work can lead to serious (and even fatal) consequences.  Unfortunately, in a recent case waste paper management company has been fined £250,000 after an employee was fatally crushed inside a baling machine.

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) investigation found it was “most likely” that the worker fell down the baling machine’s hopper and into the compactor chamber while clearing material that had blocked the hopper. It is also suggested that “Falling into the chamber initiated the compaction sequence.”

The Company had failed to adopt a safe system of work, and employees routinely climbed the baler to remove blockages. The HSE said workers were exposed to the risk of falling from height, either into the compactor chamber or on to the concrete floor.

The company was found guilty of breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £250,000, with costs of £6,640.

HSE inspector Nicholas Wright said: “This tragic incident, which led to the avoidable death of a father, was easily preventable and the risk should have been identified.”

Safe System of Work

A system of work is a set of procedures according to which work must be carried out. Safe systems of work are required where hazards cannot be eliminated and some risk still exists.  Safe Systems of Work can reduce or eliminate exposure to hazards but they must be strictly followed. In order to be effective, your Safe Systems of Work Regularly review your systems of work to ensure that they still reduce or minimise risk and revise as necessary.

The lack of a Safe System of Work may lead to risks not being managed effectively and workers being placed in danger. The lack of a Safe System of Work may also lead to death, as in the case outlined above.

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