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Hands severed in industrial baler

A recycling company has pleaded guilty to breaching safety regulations after a worker had both hands severed in an accident at work.

Spanish-born Ivan Menendez, then 38, had been employed as an operative for seven months by Metal Processing Ltd at its site in Northam when the devastating incident happened on 8 January 2014.

His hands were severed at the wrists while cutting metal strips on an industrial baler.

Flawed system

West Hampshire Magistrates’ Court heard how Mr Menendez’ hands were caught in the shear point as a hydraulic-powered lid lowered and met the corner of the baler. The lid had a maximum shear force of 76 tonnes.

He was rushed to Southampton General and later transferred to Salisbury Hospital where surgeons successfully managed to reattach both hands. Unfortunately, however, he will never regain full use of them.

The Health and Safety Executive found the system for operating the baler was fundamentally flawed, with no direct line of sight between the operator who closed the baler lid and the hands of the worker loading the metal strips. There was no evidence of a proper risk assessment for this.

Metal Processing Ltd, of Princes Street, Northam, Southampton, admitted breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations in connection with the incident.

It also admitted a further two breaches in connection with a separate lead poisoning incident.

The firm was fined a total of £35,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 in costs.

Hand injury compensation

Hand injuries can have a dramatic impact on your ability to work, let alone carry out basic everyday tasks.

Loss of both hands is the most serious type of hand injury. Victims can expect an average of between £90,000 and £120,000 in compensation, while those who lose one hand can expect a typical payout of between £70,000 and £90,000.

Source: Health and Safety Executive