Company Fined After Worker Injures Fingers In Unguarded Machinery

Lawyers Say Lessons Must Be Learnt After HSE Find Machine Was Missing Vital Safety Guard

02.04.2013

By Suzanne Rutter

Expert lawyers have called for valuable lessons to be learned about the importance of safety in the workplace after a Kilmarnock company was fined following an incident in which a man’s hand got trapped in unguarded machinery.

The call was made by lawyers at Irwin Mitchell following reports that Mahle Engine Systems UK Limited was fined £8,000 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an employee suffered serious hand injuries at the Riccarton site in Kilmarnock.

The agency worker was attempting to free a strip of metal from the machine when his gloved right hand became trapped. The worker required surgery on three fingers to repair tissue damage following the incident in October 2010 and was unable to return to work for two months.

Mahle Engine Systems, which makes engine parts, admitted breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Elaine Russell, a partner and workplace injury expert at law firm Irwin Mitchell’s Glasgow office, said: “Employers have a duty to ensure their employees are properly protected from harm and this is especially important when it comes to potentially dangerous machinery.

“Employees have the right to go to work without the fear of being hurt and this case is a stark reminder that health and safety standards must be maintained and dangerous machinery must have the correct safety guards. We hope businesses learn valuable lessons from this case so other employees don’t have to suffer unnecessary injuries in future.”

An investigation by the HSE said the firm did not carry out a suitable risk assessment to prevent employees becoming trapped in the machine’s rollers.

The HSE also said employees did not have sufficient training to feed sheet metal through parts of the machine safely and a guard should have been fitted to prevent access to the most dangerous parts of the equipment.

After sentencing, HSE Inspector Russell Berry, said the incident could easily have been prevented if the company had taken the necessary precautions but as a result of the incident safety improvements have now been made and the machine has now been fitted with proper guards.