H&S – Engineering firm sentenced after worker suffers severe hand injuries

An engineering firm has been fined after a worker suffered serious injuries to his hand when he was polishing a component on a manual lathe in July 2012

He suffered a dislocated knuckle on his right hand and a broken index finger which required surgery to pin and wire back into position. He has still not yet regained full use of his hand and requires a further operation to repair the damage.

Following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) the company was prosecuted for safety failings.

The Court heard that the employee was wearing gloves, while he polished a component on the lathe using a strip of emery cloth looped around it.

But as he worked, either the emery cloth or his gloves became entangled in the rotating parts and pulled his right hand into the machinery.

HSE found that the company had failed to adequately assess and control the risks associated with polishing on manual lathes and failed to provide a safe system of work. In addition, there was inadequate information and training for workers, who should have been advised not to wear gloves when working on machines with rotating parts.

The company was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £3,875.10 costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing HSE inspector Fiona McGarry, said:

“Too many workers are injured getting tangled on manual lathes. Many of these incidents involve the use of emery cloth and employers must assess the need to use it on components on manual lathes and avoid it where possible.

“If it is necessary it should be used with safety equipment, such as a backing board or tool post. Only where none of these methods are reasonably practicable should emery cloth be used. Gloves should not be worn when working on machines with rotating parts.”

Spectra Says:

Assessing workplace equipment is vital to ensure that you have the correct control measures (such as the right protective equipment) in place when the machinery is in use. This is again another story of a company who didn’t take the right steps to protect their employees and have ultimately paid the price. Ensure that you have assessed the equipment you use and to review this on a regular basis to make sure it is still suitable. If you are struggling with risk assessments, or any other part of health and safety, you can contact Spectra on 0845 224 7013.

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