Isolation of machines


A farm employee broke his wrist and sustained friction burns when his arm became trapped in a belt conveyor feeding dried grass to a baling machine. He was instructed by the farm manager to remove a build up of grass from surface of the tail drum as the belt was being deflected from its track. As he was clearing grass from tail drum of the inclined belt conveyor the foreman turned the machine back on.


The farming company was prosecuted under:

  1. Section 2(1) under the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for failing to implement a safe system of work to ensure machinery remained isolated while obstructions were cleared and instructing employees accordingly;
  2. Regulation 3 (1) of RIDDOR for failing to report the accident by the quickest practical means.

The company pleaded guilty to both charges and was fined £6,000 by magistrates.


Machines should be provided with means of isolation which complies with the machinery directive and which is clearly labelled. Multiple means of isolation may be required.

Adequate instructions and training should also be provided for operating, cleaning (including removing blockages) and maintaining all equipment and machinery used on a farm where these activities could give rise to danger.

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