Car manufacturing giant Jaguar Land Rover has been fined £40,000 after a worker suffered life-threatening injuries when he was dragged into inadequately guarded machinery.
On 14 June 2013 the 57-year-old maintenance electrician suffered two punctured lungs and broke ten ribs, his breastbone, two bones in his spine and two in his right hand. He was left with blood clots on his heart and kidneys and was placed in an induced coma in intensive care for 12 days. He remained in hospital for a further week but was back at work within four months.
Following the latest in a series of frequent production line stoppages at Jaguar Land Rover’s Lode Lane site in Solihull, the employee, who does not wish to be named, approached a gap in the perimeter guard surrounding the vehicle body lifting equipment so he could witness the faulty process in operation.
Birmingham Crown Court heard that as he watched he was hit by an empty vehicle body carrier on a conveyor that was travelling through the gap. He was knocked to the ground and forcibly dragged into a restricted processing area where he was severely crushed.
“Although the gap was minimally sized to allow empty carriers into the restricted area, it also allowed access to dangerous moving parts within the production process while in itself creating a crush hazard with the moving conveyor,” said HSE inspector John Glynn after the hearing.
“Jaguar Land Rover has extensive safety systems in place and the Lode Lane plant had other facilities with similar processes that are guarded much more effectively. The company should have ensured the same level of protection at this location. It didn’t and as a result a man suffered horrific injuries. It is remarkable that he recovered enough to return to work within 17 weeks. The incident could very easily have ended his life.”
The gap remained unguarded following the incident until HSE enforcement required that further protective measures be provided. The area of conveyor was subsequently enclosed with fixed perimeter guards by Jaguar Land Rover and a key exchange access system introduced.
On 23 December the Coventry-based firm was fined £40,000 with £13,474 costs after pleading guilty to breaching regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.
Passing sentence, His Honour Judge Carr said Jaguar Land Rover “fell far short of a safe and reasonable standard”, adding: “This was an entirely reasonable, foreseeable situation. The breach was an ongoing failure and an accident waiting to happen.”
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