Pirelli fined for Carlisle injury
More than a year and a half after the event took place, Carlisle Magistrates’ Court has heard the case of a worker injury at the nearby Pirelli plant. The case was brought to court by the Health and Safety Executive, which prosecuted Pirelli Tyres Ltd after an investigation found that the safety procedures for carrying out maintenance work on the machine were poor.
The arm of an employee working at the Carlisle factory on 3 January 2012 was broken in three places after it became trapped in a tyre testing machine. The 57-year old, who asked not to be named, was working on a machine that lubricates, inflates and then measures tyres, attempting to rectify a fault that occurred when it was turned back on following the Christmas shutdown. He switched it to manual mode and removed one of the guards to repair the fault in the lubricating part of the machine. The employee then returned the machine to automatic mode and it successfully processed two tyres before becoming stuck again. The HSE says that he then, without thinking, reached back into the machine which then began operating, trapping his arm. As a result, the employee was off work for four months and still has difficulty moving his shoulder.
During its investigation, the HSE learned that the fault had occurred several times before, each time upon restarting after prior Christmas shutdowns, yet Pirelli had failed to carry out a specific risk assessment for this maintenance work. The HSE also found there was limited supervision of the maintenance employees, general knowledge of the company’s written health and safety procedures was poor, and there was no system in place to check that the company’s Safe Working Procedures guidelines were being followed in practice.
After hearing the evidence, on 21 August Carlisle Magistrates’ Court fined Pirelli Tyres Ltd £20,000 and ordered the company to pay £4,330 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Michael Griffiths said: “A moment’s lapse in concentration left an employee with major injuries to his left arm because Pirelli’s management of the risks from maintenance work wasn’t good enough. The fault with the machine had occurred before, following previous Christmas breaks, but the company didn’t have a specific risk assessment in place to make sure it could be fixed safely.
“Although Pirelli did have written Safe Working Procedures, they were not effective because the employees were either unaware of them or weren’t following them, and no effort was made to check that the procedures were being followed,” Griffiths continued. “This incident could have been avoided if Pirelli had done more to make sure that risks were being properly assessed and its employees were following safe working practices.”