HSE Issues a Warning for the Textiles Industry

Risk assessments and workplace inspections bring safety hazards in the textile industry to light, but occur too late for one worker.

Following the prosecution of James Walker and Sons Ltd. of Mirfield, West Yorkshire, Rachel Parkinson, the UK''s Health and Safety Executive''s (HSE) prosecuting inspector, noted that there are important lessons the textiles industry can learn from the case.

James Walker and Sons Ltd. was fined a total of £5,000 on March 6 at Dewsbury Magistrates'' Court following an incident in which a worker had his hand crushed. The employee was working on a bleaching line when he slipped, and his right hand was dragged into the machine by a set of heavy rollers, crushing three fingers.

"This company had not totally ignored health and safety, nor had they tried to cut corners," said Parkinson. "But they had not carried out risk assessments or workplace inspections, either of which should have led to the absence of guarding coming to light. As a result of this management failure, an employee was seriously injured."

The company was charged under Regulation 11 (1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998, because effective measures were not taken to prevent access to the in-running nip between squeeze rollers on a bleaching line. The regulation stipulates, "Employers shall take effective measures to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery, or to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery, before any part of a person enters a danger zone."

Parkinson testified in court that the in-running nip was not guarded. The guard was removed six years ago and never replaced.

by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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