Leighton firm fined after worker suffered serious hand injury

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A Leighton Buzzard-based powder coating firm has been fined after an employee suffered serious hand injuries when lifting equipment failed at its factory.

The worker, who does not wish to be named, was struck by falling metal items that toppled from a basket being lifted by crane into a degreasing tank.

The incident, on September 26, 2012, happened when a lifting eyebolt attached to the crane failed. The basket’s contents fell onto his right hand resulting in broken bones, lacerations, and damage to nerves and tendons.

Luton Magistrates’ Court heard last week that DT Powder Coating Ltd – now trading as XL Powder Coating Ltd – failed to report the injury incident within the 15-day period specified by law.

However, after it happened, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) received three separate complaints from current and previous employees, which resulted in HSE serving four Improvement Notices on the company.

A subsequent HSE investigation identified serious shortcomings in the way lifting operations were carried out at the firm’s Commerce Way Industrial Estate factory.

None of the lifting accessories had been tested to ensure they were safe, employees had not received any training, and there was no system of work to ensure that lifting operations were carried out safely. The eyebolt in question should have been screwed securely into the framework at the top of the basket, but instead was poorly welded into place. The weld eventually failed causing the basket to drop.

DT Powder Coating Ltd was fined a total of £36,000 and ordered to pay £10,509 costs after being found guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995, and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the case, HSE Inspector Emma Rowlands, said: “There were multiple failings on the part of DT Powder Coating Ltd. They had not assessed the risks to their staff or planned the lifting operation to ensure it was carried out safely – neither did they ensure that the lifting equipment was safe to use or maintain the equipment appropriately.

“We received several complaints from current and previous employees regarding this company. Our investigation revealed a lack of basic employee training, and that lifting operations were carried out in a way that exposed employees to risk of injury.

“In this case, an employee suffered a needless injury, which has prevented him from working for over a year.”