07 April 2014
Company in Court after Apprentice Loses Finger
A company in the north-east of England has been punished for its role in a workplace injury that led to one of its employees losing a finger.
The unnamed man, who was 18 at the time of the accident in March 2013, saw his left hand crushed in machinery while he was working for Northumberland-based Miller UK.
It has now been fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of almost £900 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
A work accident investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered the third-year apprentice had been working on a large guillotine at the time of the accident. He was cutting a piece of metal that was positioned between the machine's blade and cutting table.
However, as he loaded the metal into the machine his left hand became trapped by the clamps that had been holding the material to the cutting table. His hand was crushed and he later had to have his index finger amputated below the second joint, while his second finger was broken in such a way that it needed medical attention.
The HSE discovered the safety guard on the machine was poorly designed and ineffective, while it had also been badly maintained. Furthermore, Miller UK had failed to conduct a satisfactory assessment of the risks attached to such a task.
Laura Catterall, an HSE inspector, said after the verdict that the young man in question is now living with permanent impairments. She said Miller UK should have spotted the guard was ineffective.
"Guards and safety systems are there for a reason and companies have a legal duty of care to ensure they are properly fitted and working effectively at all times," she stated.
Ms Catterall added that the failure to spot the ineffective guard was compounded by the poor maintenance that had taken place and a breakdown in the fault reporting system.
By Francesca Witney
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