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Co Armagh concrete manufacturer fined following serious injuries to worker

Craigavon Magistrates Court

Following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), a County Armagh concrete products manufacturer has been fined for failing to ensure the safety of employees whilst performing maintenance tasks at an unguarded conveyor.

Today at Craigavon Crown Court, Tandragee-based, RE Woolsey & Sons Ltd, was fined £16,000 after earlier pleading guilty to a single health and safety offence.

The Court heard that on January 14, 2021, an employee suffered serious arm injuries whilst performing maintenance tasks at a concrete batching plant conveyor.

After identifying a blockage of sand at the tail pulley of the conveyor, safety guards were removed to clear the material. The conveyor belt was allowed to run while sand was manually shovelled back onto it.

In attempting to clear a further blockage of sand in this area while the machine was still running, the employee was drawn into the tail pulley of the conveyor, trapped, and suffered serious injuries.

HSENI Principal Inspector, Justine McIntyre said: “Employers have a legal duty to ensure employees and others are not put at risk from unguarded machinery.

“Adequate written isolation and lockout procedures, including the provision of equipment to allow employees to effectively lock-out a machine, must be in place where workers are required to perform tasks such as maintenance, repair, installation, and cleaning of plant. Where certain tasks require plant to run, with safety guards removed, a suitable risk assessment including adequate control measures to prevent injury must be in place.

“Whilst this preventable accident resulted in serious injuries to the employee, the outcome could have been even worse.”

The investigation established that the company had no documented isolation and lockout procedure nor equipment made available to employees to effectively lock out each energy isolation point.

Furthermore, there was no specific risk assessment in place which detailed adequate control measures for running a conveyor with the safety guards removed.

Specific HSENI guidance on machinery guarding, safe isolation and lockout procedures for the concrete products industry is available at:  HSENI- Concrete premises resource list.

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