A young engineer has been left disabled after a heavy sheet of metal fell on to his feet, slicing off three of his toes and breaking five others, a court has been told.
Anton Hunter’s employer, G&P Machine Shop Ltd, of Sheerness, Kent, was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay £1,036 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.
Maidstone Magistrates’ Court heard the accident at work happened in February 2014 while Mr Hunter, 20, was helping a co-worker unload a delivery of fabricated sheets.
As he did so a 700kg steel sheet was dislodged from the magnet holding it and fell straight on to his feet. It severed the big toe and two others on Mr Hunter’s right foot and fractured all those on his left foot.
Subsequent surgery on his left foot resulted in his big toe moving, necessitating the amputation of the toe next to it, the court was told.
Magistrates heard that although Mr Hunter, of Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey, has now been able to resume working in a reduced capacity he has still not fully regained the ability to walk.
Lack of safety checks
The court heard an investigation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) established that the engineering company had failed to check that the magnet being used to unload the steel sheets was suitable for the work.
The pair had successfully unloaded two smaller sheets from the delivery vehicle but a third had fallen after becoming detached from the magnet.
Believing a cloth around the magnet was to blame they took it off and began unloading the bigger sheets. One was successfully taken off the vehicle but the next became detached from the magnet and fell on to Mr Hunter’s feet, magistrates were told.
The HSE, prosecuting, said the machine hired by the firm was not designed for the size and weight of any of the sheets that the workers were unloading. Instructions for the magnet said the maximum weight that it should be used to lift was 400kg, it said.
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: March 17, 2015
Author: Jonathan Brown