News last update:6 Aug 2012

Companies fined for death of employees

Two companies in the UK have been fined a total of £63,750 (€ 80,000) after two men died when a mixer they were cleaning started up without warning.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said the incident highlighted the importance of making sure machinery was "properly isolated" before maintenance work was carried out.

The tragedy occurred in November 2005, when two employees at Galloway and MacLeod were cleaning inside an animal feed mixer which, according to the HSE, "started up unexpectedly and without warning."

Galloway and MacLeod Ltd was fined £18,750 (€ 24,000) at for failing to comply with rules laid out in the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.

Barr Electrical Contractors Ltd was fined £45,000 (€ 56,000) for breaching parts of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act.

The fines could have been greater, but had been reduced by 25% after both companies offered guilty pleas.

Wrong wiring
The court was told how the men were cleaning the inside of the feed mixer when the mixing paddles inside it started to rotate.

Although the pair had switched the machine off and pressed the emergency stop button prior to entering, a wiring error in the machine's control system had allowed it to start up under the control of a computer system.

A HSE inspector said the incident could have been "easily prevented" if the power supply to the machine they were working on had been properly isolated.

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