Derbyshire employer prosecuted after worker severs thumb

The owner of a Derbyshire firm that specialises in refurbishing precision machining tools, has been fined for safety breaches after a worker severed a thumb while lifting a heavy component.

 45-year-old Mark Evans, from Chesterfield, was rebuilding a rotary table device at CNC Rotary in Staveley when the incident happened on 17 June 2013.

Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court heard today (17 September) that he was under the management of David Helley, 56, of Tuxford, Nottinghamshire.

 As he worked on the tool, which is used for drilling or cutting work at exact intervals around a fixed axis, and weighs around 30kg, it came loose from a sling attaching it to the prongs of a forklift truck that was being used to lift it.

 As the sling slipped through the eyebolts in the rotary table, Mr Evans’ right thumb was somehow trapped by the sling and eyebolt, severing it completely and causing further tendon damage to the hand.

 Mr Evans was given a skin graft to cover the damaged area and a big toe was used to replace the thumb. However, he experienced debilitating complications and was unable to work for a year.

 An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there was no lifting attachment to secure the sling to the forklift truck, and that the sling and eyebolts had not been thoroughly examined.

 As a result of this incident, HSE inspectors also found a series of other safety breaches that required urgent attention. Prohibition Notices were issued for the use of unsuitable and untested lifting bolts/eyes, the spraying of solvent-based paint in an area where there were unprotected electrics, and one for using lead chromate and isocyanate-containing paints.

 Improvement Notices were also served for training on lifting and slinging, and for a written scheme of examination for two pressure vessels in the workshop’s compressed air systems.

 David Helley of Markham Road, Tuxford, was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,514 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

 Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Steve Shaw said:

“Lifting incidents are often the result of a lack of training, the wrong equipment or the equipment being in a poor state of repair.

“It is important to have the correct equipment in place, which has been thoroughly examined so that safe lifting operations can be carried out by appropriately trained personnel.  

“As a result of not having safe working conditions in place, Mr Evans suffered a painful, life-changing injury that could have been prevented.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.
  2. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”
  3. HSE news releases are available at


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