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Southampton worker pays price for firm's safety failings

A Romsey brick-making firm has been prosecuted after one of its employees suffered crush injuries to his leg in a poorly-guarded machine.

Mr Nikoloz Demetrashvili, 42, was in hospital for three weeks with a multiple fracture of his right leg after the incident at Michelmersh Brick and Tile Company Ltd. on 12 October last year.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found that flawed protective measures meant the worker was able to access dangerous parts of a brick-making machine while it was still 'live'.

On 22 August, Southampton Magistrates heard that Mr Demetrashvili, from Southampton, had been trying to free a blockage caused when two trays dropped on a brick mould rather than one.

In an attempt to clear it, he followed work instructions and disabled pressure sensitive mats designed to prevent access to the machine as he needed power running to free the trapped tray. Although the power was on, the machine was not in production mode but sensors were still active.

Mr Demetrashvili then climbed on the machine to reach the tray, as he had done on previous occasions to free blockages. As he leant over the turntable and pulled the tray, a sensor activated and the turntable rotated, crushing his leg and trapping him in the machine.

After the incident, HSE served an Improvement Notice on Michelmersh Brick and Tile Co Ltd. requiring further safeguarding of the machine. It complied by removing a switch that allowed the pressure mat to be over-ridden, meaning it is no longer possible for operators to access the machinery whilst there is power running to it.

Michelmersh Brick and Tile Company Ltd. of Hillview Road, Michelmersh, Romsey, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. It was fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay £4,945 in costs.


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