Firm fined after man traps fingers

A leading paper towel manufacturer has been fined over a personal injury suffered by one of its workers.

Leicester-based Sofidel UK failed to provide suitable protection to prevent employees accessing moving machinery parts.

The 37-year-old worker, who trapped his fingers when trying to clear a machine blockage, later had to have the tips of two fingers amputated.

The work accident happened at Hamilton Industrial Estate in September last year, as the man was working on a paper converting machine. An investigation of the site by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found insufficient guarding on the machine.

The worker reached inside the machine to try and remove a tissue blockage on the conveyor belt and pulley drive. Two fingers on his left hand were so badly injured that the tips later had to be removed.

Fortunately the worker was able to return to work on light duties after three months, and full duties after five. However, the HSE said that fixed guarding should have featured on the conveyor, which had recently been transferred from another site, to prevent employee contact with moving parts.

Pleading guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, Sofidel UK Ltd of Waterside Road, Leicester, was fined £2,000 and charged £712 costs.

Personal injury risk

HSE inspector Richenda Dixon said the incident highlighted the dangers posed by machinery and urged employers to conduct fresh risk assessments when moving equipment across sites. This would prevent staff having to file personal injury claims.

“Workers should not be injured trying to fix a problem,” said Ms Dixon. “Having an effective guard on this part of the machine would have prevented this employee from suffering nasty injuries to his hand.”

HSE statistics show that in the past year, more than 17,000 people in the manufacturing sector have suffered personal injuries.

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