A number of fi nes have been levied recently following manufacturing and construction accidents in which workers’ fi ngers have been severed.
Komatsu UK Ltd Birtley, a producer of mining and construction equipment, was sentenced in December 2010 after a worker severed two fi ngers while operating a drilling machine. HSE’s investigation found that using the drill was not part of the worker’s normal work and he had not received training on its use. Furthermore, a guard that may have prevented the incident was missing from the drill.
In a separate incident, GJ Bream and Son Ltd, a Bury St Edmunds construction and building company, was fi ned after a worker’s thumb and index fi nger were severed while operating cutting machinery. The HSE investigation discovered that the company had not properly assessed the risk of the work activity and had failed to train staff properly.
Another Bury St Edmunds company, Chadwicks of Bury Ltd, was sentenced in December 2010 for an incident in which a worker had four fi ngers severed by a lid-punching machine while re-threading paper through the machine’s cutting tool.
The company, which manufactures lids for yogurt pots and other food containers, had disabled sensors on the machine that would have stopped the machine operating while paper was being rethreaded.
The recent sentences in which the companies were fi ned tens of thousands of pounds highlights the dangers of machine equipment in the manufacturing industries and the importance of safety guards and training. All manufacturers and industries have obligations under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) to ensure that machinery is safe, risks are assessed and employees properly trained.