Steel giant Tata SteelUK has been fined nearly £2m after two workers lost parts of their hands in separate machinery incidents at the same plant in Corby, Northamptonshire.
Northampton Crown Court heard how, on 12 September 2014, a 26-year-old employee lost two thirds of his left hand and his middle and ring fingers while trying to clear a blockage on a steel tube manufacturing line. HSE inspector Mark Austin said he had been trying to ‘put a gap back’ in between tubes on the feed conveyor, when his colleague – who could not see him – started the plant up.
He said that: “Fixed guarding had been removed, although it has never been established by whom and when. However, it was not an isolated guarding issue identified on this production line”.
The second incident happened on 19 February 2015, also from guarding failures. The court heard how the 52-year-old team leader on refresher training lost part of his little finger when his glove got caught in a turning lathe. Guarding was in place but it had not been interlocked, said Austin.
The incident happened despite the fact that Tata was given approval from HSE on 28 January for addressing guarding issues in Corby.
HSE Inspector Austin said: “Tata confirmed that they had reviewed all their guarding in place across their site and had an action plan in place to fix and upgrade those issues identified.
“However, it transpired, as part of the second investigation, that Tata had failed to review this plant’s guarding as part of compliance with the notice”.
Tata UK’s previous fine for guarding failures was £25,000 on 3 January 2014 after a worker injured his hand in a pair of steel pinch rolls on a machine in its Wales site. Tata has been issued with multiple improvement notices across its sites in the North of England and Corby.
Austin said the Judge took account of Tata’s previous convictions and enforcement notices to decide on the fine at the sentencing on 26 July.
Tata UK Limited, of Millbank, London, pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The firm was fined a total of £1.98million and ordered to pay costs of £22,500.
The company said in a statement: “The health and safety of our employees and contractors is our most important priority.
“Tata Steel constantly places a great deal of emphasis on creating a strong and ever-improving safety culture in the organisation – and in improving our processes and procedures. We want
to ensure everyone working on our sites is safe.”
HSE Inspector Austin commented: “Guarding of dangerous parts of machinery is a fundamental of ensuring workers safety, HSE will not hesitate to hold those accountable who do not fulfil their legal obligations, especially if that results in someone receiving life changing injuries.”
– See more at: British Safety Council