A food packaging firm has been fined after an employee suffered serious injuries to his hand.
The trainee worker was swapping the feed belts on a carton packaging machine when his hand became caught between two moving parts, resulting in the loss of the top of his right index finger.
The Gateshead man, who is in his 30s, had to undergo two operations on his damaged hand and was unable to work for several weeks following the accident which occurred in November 2013.
Following a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the work accident, the packaging company was fined £10,000 after being found guilty of serious safety failings.
The investigation revealed there was inadequate guarding in place around the machine and the injured worker had not received any clear instructions about operating the machine during maintenance work.
Gateshead Magistrates Court heard there was a lack of adequate training, information, and supervision and that the company had already been prosecuted for an accident involving a similar machine in 2009.
In addition, it was revealed that the HSE had served the manufacturing firm with an Improvement Notice in 2007 when it ordered the company to improve the training of its machine operators.
Frustratingly, as is so often the case with so many work accident compensation claims, this man’s injury could so easily have been prevented.
As a consequence of his employer choosing to neglect the duty of care every employer has towards the safety of its workers, this man still struggles with any kind of pinching movement between his finger and thumb.
Moving machine parts always present a very real danger in the workplace. We see many cases where moving machinery has injured workers due to staff being struck by moving parts or ejected material or as a result of having parts of their body drawn into, trapped or crushed between rollers, belts and pulley drives.
This kind of work accident can always be avoided if employers simply ensure machinery is regularly serviced and repaired, and that workers receive the proper training and supervision they need to do their jobs safely.
The fact that the HSE had previously found fault with this company’s working practices on two separate occasions speaks a great deal about what can happen when employers refuse to abide by the law and fail to protect their workers.
Matthew Tomlinson is a Senior Personal Injury Lawyer specialising in work accident compensation claims for Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
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