A worker lost his fingertip in an accident which led to a fabrications firm being fined £13,000.
H&H Alloy Sales Ltd, based in Rowley Regis in the West Midlands, was also ordered to pay £1,391 in costs after admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
The incident happened on December 18 last year when the 32-year-old employee, who does not wish to be named, drilled holes into metal parts.
Black Country Magistrates’ Court was told the man, from Dudley, was trying to move a metal piece which had become stuck when his hand suddenly shot across it, causing his middle finger to get caught on the drill.
He was unable to remove his finger as his glove had become entangled in the machinery.
Off work for months
When the worker was finally freed he was taken to hospital, where doctors amputated the tip of his middle finger.
He could not work for three months and when he eventually returned in March, he was in so much pain that his finger had to be amputated even further, down to the first joint. He was unable to return to work until early September.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the prosecution against H&H Alloy Sales Ltd after carrying out an investigation into the incident.
It was found that the firm had a safe system of work in place for the drill, which said that before being used, the guard must be put into the correct position and then checked by an operator.
However, the HSE said the guard was not in place because it had been removed and never replaced. It was later located in a box and has now been re-fitted.
Accident ‘could have been prevented’
HSE Inspector Judith Lloyd said after the hearing that the accident could have been prevented entirely if the written procedure had been followed.
But it was customary for workers to use the drill without putting the guard in place, and no one checked whether employees were following instructions.
She added that wearing gloves while operating the drill without the guard “significantly increased the risk of entanglement”, and this had been pointed out to the firm during a previous inspection.
Ms Lloyd also noted that H&H switched to a programmable automatic drilling machine after the incident, and said she could not understand why the device had not been used from the start.
Making a claim for finger injuries
If you have suffered a hand or finger injury at work through no fault of your own, you may be eligible for personal injury compensation.
Accident Advice Helpline can assist you with this and advise on all you need to know to get what you deserve.
Date Published: October 8, 2014
Author: David Brown