Joinery firm in court after worker loses fingertip

A Kent joinery firm has been fined for safety failings after an employee lost the tip of his left middle finger on an unguarded piece of machinery.

The 31 year-old, who does not want to be named, required a partial amputation of the injured digit as a result of the incident at North Quay Trading Limited in Whitstable on 5 November 2013, although he was able to return to work shortly after.

The company was prosecuted today (27 January) after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found a safety guard had been removed and not replaced.

Canterbury Magistrates’ Court heard the worker was using an overhead router to manually machine a rebate along the edge of some door panels. As he worked on his third or fourth panel his left hand slipped and came into contact with the cutting tool.

HSE established that although a guard was available for the machine in question, it had been removed during a change in tooling and not refitted.

Magistrates were told it had not been seen fitted for a couple of weeks, meaning other workers also risked being injured as they used the router.

North Quay Trading Limited, based at the Joseph Wilson Trading Estate in Milstrood Road, Whitstable, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £766 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Robert Hassell commented:

“The worker suffered a painful injury and is now permanently disfigured as a result of an incident that was entirely preventable had the safety guard been in place.

“Guards are there for a reason and the onus was on North Quay Trading Limited to instigate routine checks to ensure they were fitted and working effectively at all times.

“A substantial number of the injuries reported to HSE involve workers coming into contact with dangerous moving parts, particularly in a manufacturing environment. The risks are clear and safety guidance is freely available covering guarding requirements.”

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 which are effective (a) to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or (b) 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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