Firms fined as fingers lost because of unsafe machines
Two companies in Bolton and Hampshire have been fined for failing to comply with safety regulations after workers lost fingers in work accidents where their hands were trapped in machines.
Tame Valley Padding Co Ltd was fined £6,500 and ordered to pay £5,577 in costs after they pleaded guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations Act 1998.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Tame Valley Padding Co Ltd after a worker had to have his index finger amputated to below the top knuckle when his hand was caught in a fabric making machine.
A HSE investigation revealed that the worker was trying to unblock machine after fibre had built up inside the mechanism. The HSE found it was regular practice to attempt to unclog the machine while it was still operating but this was unsafe. The company has since installed a new safety system which cuts the power if the dangerous rotating mechanism is exposed.
In another case the owner of a Hampshire arboriculture business was prosecuted for safety failings after a trainee tree surgeon severed his thumb on a log splitter. The machine required users to hold logs in place with their hands and as a splitting blade lowered it caught and sliced through his thumb.
The HSE found there was no written risk assessment for the machine and it failed to comply with the latest safety standards for such equipment which should have mechanical holders for the logs as well as better controls to prevent accidental use.
Cedardale director Chris Kunesch, of Hartley Wintney, who was responsible for the machine, pleaded guilty and was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £2,000 in costs.
Sally Rissbrook, an accident at work specialist at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Sadly we see many cases where workers are put at risk because of a lack of safety systems on potentially very dangerous machines. Unfortunately in both these two cases it has led to workers losing part of their fingers when if the right precautions were taken the machines would have had appropriate systems to prevent injury.
“Time and time again we see workers injured in accidents that could easily be avoided had the necessary safety precautions been taken. I urge all employers to ensure they check their machines and take appropriate steps to make them safe.”
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