Company Prosecuted After Worker Loses Finger

Timber Firm Taken To Court Over Accident With Unsafe Machinery


A timber company based in Lincolnshire has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an incident in which one of its staff had a finger severed.

The 23-year-old from Holbeach had been cleaning a blockage from a woodworking device at Select Timber Products' premises in Donington when the incident occurred in July 2013.

In order to facilitate the work, the machine operator had removed the main guard, as well as a fixed guard on one of the machine's cutting heads.

However, the power supply had not been isolated and as a result one of the cutting heads was still moving. This caused serious damage to his fingers, leaving surgeons with no option but to amputate the top of his middle left finger. Two other fingers were badly lacerated and he has been left with restricted movement in all three digits.

In the hearing at Grantham Magistrates' Court, Select Timber Products admitted three breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. It was fined £9,900 with costs of £1,193.

This kind of accident is a common one, HSE inspector Neil Ward stated after the incident.

He said: "About 30 to 40 similar incidents are reported to HSE every year. Nearly all result in amputation injuries and most, including this one, could have been prevented if the cutters had come to rest before operators approached them."

Mr Ward also said this cleaning task should have been only be done by those who are trained.

Regulation 9(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 requires that such training be given to ensure workers using machinery are safe. This was one of the three regulations broken.

The others were Regulation (2) - stipulating that adequate training should be given to anyone supervising work, plus 11(1), which concerns the importance of ensuring moving parts of dangerous machinery are immobilised before anyone comes into contact with them.

Expert Opinion
This man suffered severe and life-changing injuries because his employer failed to follow health and safety regulations that are designed to protect workers.

“Working with cutting equipment is extremely dangerous and it is vital that risk assessments are carried out and safety measures, such as machine guards, are in place to reduce the likelihood of serious injuries while operating the machinery.

“This type of injury is not uncommon, with the HSE indicating there are around 40 similar incidents every year. We hope that this HSE prosecution serves as a reminder to companies across the country of the importance of implementing safety precautions so no other worker has to go through a similar ordeal.”
Stephen Nye, Partner

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