Companies fined for death of employees

19-09-2008 | |

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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