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Fine for Metal Closures (Huddersfield) Ltd

Dewsbury Magistrates Court were told how James Hill, a development engineer, sustained injury while helping in the running and de-bugging of a new production line. It was reported by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), during the proceedings instituted against Metal Closures (Huddersfield) Ltd, that on 24 August, 2010, Mr. Hill lost part of a finger, while testing an unguarded power press.

Mr. Hill had joined the production team only recently prior to the accident, for the purpose of assisting with various “teething” problems associated with the new production line. One problem that was being encountered, was the regular tripping of the press, due to the mis-feeding of partly formed caps. This was apparently contributed to by partly formed caps being transferred from the first press. Although still in the development stage, the press line was in service and producing about 20,000 caps a day for whisky bottle tubes.

On the fault occurring again, the press tripped, causing it to stop with the clutch disengaged but with the flywheel in motion. The Court heard how Mr Hill approached the press which did not have a guard and proceeded to pull the crushed caps from the machine tooling with pliers. He then inserted his hand into the mechanism of the machine to determine the cause of the mis-feeds.

As this procedure was in progress, a technical manager went to the production line, without observing Mr. Hill crouched by the press. The technical manager accessed the control panel in order to reset them. During this action, the press re-started and caught the right index finger of Mr Hill in the tooling, severing it immediately below the second knuckle.

The Court found that the Defendant failed to apply normal and adequate standards to the production power presses they operated. A technician should not have been able to access and work on them until if was safe to do so.

Metal Closures (Huddersfield) Ltd, of Tandem Industrial Estate, Wakefield Road, Huddersfield, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. A fine was imposed by the Court of £4,000, with an order to pay £1,795 in costs.