Fine for Rotherham company over worker’s severed fingers

A Rotherham manufacturing firm has been prosecuted for safety breaches after an employee’s fingers were crushed and severed in an unguarded machine.

The incident at Heaps, Arnold and Heaps Ltd, which makes metal products, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which found a vital safety device had been deliberately removed from a 250-tonne press.

Rotherham Magistrates were today (24 Nov) told that the 43-year-old worker, from Doncaster, had been asked to work on the machine, which presses lead work-pieces into required shapes. He was unaware a safety device, or interlock, had been removed while he had been on holiday.

The employee put his hand into the machine during a routine cleaning operation but the press activated without warning and his fingers were crushed by the ram. He lost the index and middle fingers and suffered further crush injuries to his left hand. He is undertaking a phased return to work but still needs medical and physiotherapy treatment.

HSE’s investigation identified the safety interlock had been deliberately removed so that the machine could be operated while the protective guard was open. In addition HSE found inadequate management systems and a lack of competence relating to the required machinery guarding standards.

Heaps, Arnold and Heaps Ltd, of Quintec Court,, Barbot Hall Industrial Estate, Rotherham, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £687 in costs after admitting a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Jane Fox said:

“This serious injury was entirely preventable.  A safety device had been deliberately taken off with the full knowledge of management. There were no systems in place to check the safety of machines and this employee was certainly not told that the machine had been left in a dangerous condition.

“Safety devices, such as guards and interlocks, are installed on machines for very good reason – and that is to prevent workers from coming into contact inadvertently with dangerous moving parts. Regulations and safety standards have been in place for many years on this issue and are well-recognised by the majority of companies.

“Sadly, this was not the case here and an employee of long-standing now has to endure the consequences for the rest of his life.”

For information and advice on machine guarding, visit

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. Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: “Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken… to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone.”

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