HC Deb 15 June 1937 vol 325 cc239-41

In the case of any such process as may be specified by regulations of the Secretary of State, being a process which involves a special risk of injury to the eyes from particles or fragments thrown off in the course of the process, suitable goggles or effective screens shall he provided to protect the eyes of the persons employed in the process.—[Mr. G. Lloyd.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

5.17 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd)

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

This Clause is intimately connected with two Amendments which my right hon. Friend is proposing to Clause 14 (3). I would deal with the matter in general, because it arises out of the discussion which we had upon that Clause in Committee. Hon. Members who were present there will remember, and I would point it out to the rest of the House, that under the existing law there is power to fence machinery, but no power to fence the work that may he in the machine. It has been impressed upon the Home Office, because of a number of peculiarly distressing accidents, that workpeople may be injured, not only by the machine itself, but by the work which is moving in the machine, say, in a lathe. Distressing accidents have occurred in the use of the stock bar and hollow-spindle lathes. I remember hearing in Committee of the case of a girl who stopped to pick up something off the floor and her hair came entangled with the rapidly moving stock bar, with the result that she was badly hurt.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Gentleman seems to be speaking somewhat off the lines of the proposed new Clause.

Mr. Lloyd

I apologise if I appear to do so, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but I am not doing so. The Bill is very complicated in its details. We brought forward in Committee proposals for dealing with accidents, and the Committee criticised them. We are now bringing forward an amending scheme, of which this new Clause is an integral part. Fresh examinations have taken place in the Home Office of accidents not as the result of the machine, but of the material in the machine, and we have found—a very useful result of our discussions in the Committee—that an extraordinary number of accidents is due to particles in motion flying out of a machine. Therefore, we decided to bring forward a more elaborate amending scheme to deal with those accidents. This is a Clause which completes our new scheme for dealing with the danger of material in motion. It gives the Home Secretary power to prevent accidents arising from that cause.

5.20 p.m.

Mr. Short

We welcome the proposed new Clause. I do not intend to follow the Parliamentary Secretary into a discussion of the proposed Amendment to Clause 14. Under this new Clause the Home Secretary proposes to take power to make regulations to ensure the provision of suitable goggles or effective screens. That is a very wise provision, as I know from my own practical experience. I hope that he will also take the opportunity not merely to provide those necessary defences, but to ensure that employers see that their workmen use them.

5.21 p.m.

Mr. MacLaren

I notice that the wording suggested is "suitable goggles." May I say a word about the use of goggles? In industries where men sweat, their goggles become corroded. In many cases such goggles fit badly. I am making these statements in the hope that inspectors will see that men who use these appliances do not suffer. Some of us who wear glasses know that when they fit badly across the bridge of the nose they are not very comfortable. In places where there may be particles or steam in the air, very serious inflammation may take place on the bridge of the nose. Where men are constantly using goggles, it is not enough merely to provide suitable goggles of a general type, but to suit the individual case. In many cases men suffer severely in the way I have mentioned, and I suggest that something more is needed to be added to those words. I hope that the inspectors will see that men do not suffer. I have been specially asked to stress these points.

5.22 p.m.

Mr. Broad

It is not clear whether the Minister or the inspectors are to have power to compel the use either of a screen or of goggles, or whether that decision will be left to the employer. I suggest that the screen method is infinitely more satisfactory, and should be used where-ever possible, and that goggles should be allowed only where a screen cannot be used. For many reasons, largely in connection with dry grinding—the old wet grindstone has gone and now there are high-speed grinding arrangements—it is not only a question of protecting the eyes from pieces of grit or material, very often red hot, but of breathing as well. Those who do not wear glasses know, if they drive a car without a screen but with a pair of glasses on, that a spot of rain upon one of the glasses will obscure their vision at once, whereas dust or dirt can gather on the screen, which is farther from their eyes, and they can still do their job. Working people know how dangerous for their eyes it is to do this dry grinding, but they find it difficult to do the work when wearing goggles, and they almost invariably throw them aside. No threat of punishment would make them keep the goggles on, because they have to get on with their work. The goggles are unsatisfactory, not only because of perspiration, but because of steam and condensation. I hope that these considerations will be borne in mind, and that power will be given to insist upon a screen.

5.26 p.m.

Mr. Lloyd

I think I can give satisfactory information on this subject. The fitting of the goggles is very important, but screens will be prescribed wherever possible. We agree that it is the most convenient method. I would, however, mention a case which is referred to in the Home Office Industrial Museum, in which pieces of thermite lodged on a man's spectacles, and his eyes were thereby saved.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.