Lapse of concentration, but firm could have prevented injury

A firm in Cumbria has been fined £12,000 after an employee suffered a work accident in which his fingers were partially severed.

The 29-year-old man was working for The New West Port Corporation Ltd at its factory on the Solway Industrial Estate in Maryport when the incident happened on 2 March 2011.

He had been feeding long pieces of wood through a machine so they could be cut down to size by circular saws and subsequently inserted a piece of wood into the machine’s exit, so it could be recalibrated for the next job.

One of the machine’s blades, which was still rotating, struck his right hand and caused him to lose parts of all four fingers on that hand.

West Cumbria Magistrates’ Court in Workington heard that the man now struggles to carry out daily tasks like shaving and cooking as a result of the work injury.

Firm prosecuted for safety breach

The company, which trades as West Port, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for safety failings after an investigation was carried out.

There was no guard over the part of the machine where the wood exited from beneath the saw and that meant workers were able to reach it while it was still rotating, the HSE investigators found.

HSE Inspector Andrew Jewitt said after the hearing that the adequate guarding of all industrial machinery to protect workers is a “basic legal requirement”.

Work injury ‘was avoidable’

He continued: “A moment’s lapse of concentration led to one of West Port’s employees losing parts of all four fingers on his right hand, but it should never have been possible for him to reach inside the machine while the blade was still rotating.”

A tunnel guard has since been installed over the exit of the machine by the company and if that had been in place at the time the accident would have been averted, he added.

As well as the £12,000 fine, The New West Port Corporation Ltd was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £4,075 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 by failing to prevent access to the dangerous parts of the machine.


Source: HSE

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