Welding Firm Prosecuted Over Hand Accident

Dudley-Based Company Taken To Court Over Safety Failings

04.07.2014

A welding firm based in the West Midlands has been fined heavily over safety failings relating to a serious accident in which a member of staff suffered severe finger injuries.

The incident occurred in August 2013 at the premises of MTI Welding Technologies in Dudley when a 49-year-old employee from Wolverhampton was seeking to put right a loading problem on a high-friction welding machine. He pressed an incorrect button and this caused a hydraulic holding fixture to close on his left hand.

As a result, his middle and ring fingers were severely crushed and they had to be amputated. He was off for three weeks before he was able to resume work.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the matter several weeks later after an anonymous tip-off, following the failure of the company to report the incident. It found the machine, which had been acquired from another firm, had been modified to remove its safe automatic loading system to a risky manual one. The changes meant the safety locks did not work so staff could still access the machine while it was working.

In addition, operating buttons were placed too close to the machine, meaning they could be operated while in the danger zone. There was no secondary guarding to protect workers from the machinery.

The inspection also found MTI Welding Technologies had not carried out a satisfactory risk assessment and it was operating a radial arm drill without an adequate safety switch, leading to the issuing of a prohibition notice against its use.

MTI pleaded guilty at Dudley Magistrates' Court to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. It was fined £53,000 with £3,100 costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector John Glynn said: "The company builds and sells its welding machines to major manufacturing companies worldwide. As original manufacturers they are fully aware of the legal requirements to supply machines with all the required safety measures.

"They were therefore grossly negligent to allow the use of this machine within their own premises in its modified state."

Our serious injury claims team could help you claim compensation if you have suffered an injury at work that resulted in the amputation of a limb. Visit our Amputation Claims page or Accident at Work Claims page for more information.


Expert Opinion
This man suffered horrendous injuries because his employer did not follow protocols that are necessary to protect workers’ safety.

“Working with heavy machinery is hazardous and it is vital that risk assessments are carried out and measures are put in place to minimise the risk of serious injury.

“We hope that this HSE prosecution serves as a reminder to welding companies across the country of the importance of taking safety precautions so no other worker has to go through a similar ordeal.”
Stephen Nye, Partner