Volume 47, Issue 7 - July 2012

Glass Machinery Manufacturer Fined $155,000 for Safety Violation
United Kingdom-based Lisec UK and Ireland Ltd. recently was fined approximately $155,000 after a five-year investigation found the company responsible in an incident in which the hand of a worker from County Durham, England, was severed while performing maintenance on one of the company’s glass-cutting machines. The investigation and charges were brought forth by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Great Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety.

According to HSE, a 34-year-old maintenance technician (who requested not to be named) was examining a new tilt table with a co-worker at United Kingdom-based Solaglas (Architectural) when the incident occurred in September 2007. HSE originally charged Lisec after the incident on September 12, 2007.

An investigation ensued, and the company now has been found guilty of not complying with Section 6(3) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act [of] 1974. In addition to the $155,000 fine, the company owes approximately $232,000 in court fees, according to HSE.

“A jury at Teesside Crown Court heard the injured maintenance technician … was on his hands and knees while trying to ascertain the cause of the fault and had activated the emergency stop,” writes HSE. “Suspended above his right wrist was a large laminated glass sheet measuring six meters by three meters and weighing around almost a ton.”

In order to view a sensor that dealt with the release of the laminated sheet, the maintenance technician placed his right arm beneath the hovering glass, according to HSE. As his co-worker moved past a different sensor, the hovering glass was dropped and fell onto the wrist of the worker and cut off his hand, which was reattached “with partial success.”

“An HSE investigation found that there were faults within the [program] controlling the movement of the glass as it allowed the glass sheet to be released, even when an emergency stop had been activated and that this fault was exacerbated by the installation of the new tilt table and the failure to integrate it properly with the existing equipment,” the HSE stated.

“Once he had put the table into an emergency stop condition, it should not have been possible to release the glass,” says HSE inspector Martin Baillie. “Installers of machinery need to ensure that new equipment is compatible with the existing equipment and that the complete line complies with the essential safety requirements. That includes ensuring machinery is unable to move suddenly when an emergency stop has been activated.”

Lisec officials declined to comment.

AGC/Interpane Alliance on Hold as EC Investigates
A previously announced pending alliance between AGC Glass Europe and Interpane currently is on hold, as the European Commission (EC) investigates to ensure the alliance is in compliance with its regulations (see related story in February USGlass, page 14).

“On April 17, 2012, the Commission received a notification of a proposed concentration pursuant to Article 4 of Council Regulation, by which the undertaking AGC Glass Europe, will also acquire within the meaning of Article 3 of the Merger Regulation joint control of the whole of the undertakings Interpane International (Germany) and Interpane Glass Holding AG (Switzerland) - together, “Interpane,” by way of purchase of shares,” reads the notification.

NSG Group Announces Reduction in European Float Capacity
The NSG Group has announced that it will keep one of its two furnaces at its float plant in Gladbeck, Germany, out of operation until at least the end of calendar year 2012. Company officials say the decision was made “as a consequence of demand reduction across Europe in the company’s three main business sectors, solar energy, automotive and architectural products, combined with overcapacity in the European glass industry.”

Production at the Gladbeck float line was interrupted in mid-April for a planned cold repair, according to the company. The refurbishment of the line is still underway, but company officials say they do not plan to re-open the line until market demand recovers.

In addition, the company is reviewing further possible reductions in NSG’s float glass capacity in Europe, according to the announcement.

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