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Defective guard blamed for crushed hand

03 April 2014

A Northumberland company has been fined after a worker’s left hand was crushed in machinery leading to the amputation of one of his fingers.

The Bedlington man, who was 18 at the time, was a third year apprentice with Miller UK Ltd when the incident occurred at its Cramlington premises on 12 March 2013. B

edlington Magistrates’ Court heard on the third 3 April that he was working on a large guillotine cutting a piece of metal, which was held in place between the blade and cutting table by mechanical clamps. He was in hospital for three days and remained off work for six months. He suffered post-traumatic stress syndrome and continues to suffer discomfort and fatigue in his hand.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the safety guard fitted on the machine was ineffective in its design and had been poorly maintained so was not working correctly. Miller UK Ltd had also failed to carry out a sufficient assessment of the risks associated with the work and the fault had not been reported.

Miller UK Ltd, of Bassington Industrial Estate, Bassington Lane, Cramlington, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £894.95 costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the case, HSE Inspector Laura Catterall said: "This young man is now living with a permanent impairment but his injuries could have easily been avoided had Miller UK Ltd adequately assessed the risks, which would have spotted that the guard was not effective. "This failing was compounded by poor maintenance and a breakdown in the fault reporting system – which together led to one of its workers suffering severe injuries. "Guards and safety systems are there for a reason and companies have a legal duty of care to ensure they are properly fitted and working effectively at all times.”

For more information and guidance on work equipment and machinery log onto the website at: www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery