Accident Report

To:                              USW International

From:                         USW local 3657, Health and Safety Committee

Date of incident:       March 10, 2014

Time of incident:       approximately 10:30 AM

John Lepley, technician in the Education and Membership Development Department, was smacked hard in the head by the handle of the “Challenge” paper cutting machine located in the 9th floor mailroom on Monday, March 10, 2014 at approximately 10:30 AM. Since he got a big bump on his head and his pupils were slightly dilated, he left work to see a doctor before going home for the day. The examining doctor ruled out a concussion since there was no swelling at the injury site and he didn’t lose consciousness.  He has a follow-up check-up Monday, March 17. He returned to work on March 11, 2014 with no restrictions.    

This paper cutter is designed to slice through hundreds of pages of paper in one swipe. It is completely mechanical, with no electrical parts. The handle that fell and hit John in the head is solid metal and very heavy. There is a lock stop that is designed to prevent such an accident but this failed to engage.

Steve Nesbit, in the mailroom, was present at the time of the accident. He had also had a previous encounter with the same handle. Apparently, so had Debbie Greene, technician in Purchasing and Travel.

The paper cutter is a simple, crude machine. With the lock stop engaged, the user positions the paper beneath the blades. When the paper is in the right place, the rear blade is locked down, the lock stop is then manually released and the user pulls down the handle which releases the cutting blade.

Steve Sallman, technician in the Health, Safety and Environment Department, examined the machine with the representative of our local HSE committee and found that the pin of the lock stop has been gradually wearing away the slot into which the pin fits. There is no back-up safety guard to prevent the handle and the blade from releasing.

The machine is now clearly marked with two large warning labels. Given that two earlier victims of the handle work in the Purchasing and Travel department and have been thoroughly trained in the use of this machine, it is recommended that use of the machine be restricted to teams of two people trained in its use, to ensure that the pin is sufficiently engaged to prevent the handle and blade from dropping prematurely. Replacement of the machine with a modern paper-cutter with additional safety guards is recommended.

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