No risk assessment lands Saint-Gobain subsidiary with £400,000 fine

The materials division of French glazing giant Saint-Gobain has been prosecuted after a worker’s left arm had to be amputated after he was seriously injured when a rock handling belt failed at the company’s Barrow plant.

On 13 August 2017, a 48-year-old employee of Saint-Gobain Construction Products UK was clearing rock that had built up around the belt with a colleague.

The rock on the belt had become so compacted it was difficult to remove by hand, so both men went to the end of the belt that contained the start/stop button, which was protected by a local isolation safety measure. They removed the local isolation and pressed the button, but it failed to clear the blockage. One of the men went to the opposite end of the belt while the safety guards were still removed. The pair were no longer in visual contact, and one of the employees pressed the start/stop button again. His colleague’s arm was in close proximity to the rotating drum and his arm was drawn in.

Saint-Gobain Construction Products – which designs, manufactures and distributes construction materials – admitted breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation revealed there was no risk assessment or safe system of work in place for clearing rock safely from tail-end drums.

At Loughborough Magistrates’ Court last week, the Coventry-based firm was fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £12,945.

“This injury could easily have been prevented, had the risk have been identified,” said HSE inspector Michelle Morrison after the hearing. “Employers should make sure they properly assess and apply effective control measures to minimise the risk from dangerous parts of machinery.”