Steel firm fined after worker seriously injured

A worker had to have three toes amputated after his foot was crushed beneath a 300kg press die as he moved it from the bed of the press he was working on, a court has heard.

The 25-year-old, of North Ormesby, was organising a lift of the press die – used to shape sheet metal – at S M Thompson Limited, in Middlesbrough, when the incident happened on 17 March 2014.

The worker pushed the die off the press and used a hoist to support the overhanging end. He then planned to rest the die on his thighs while he pushed the lifting attachments into the middle to lift it out fully. However, before he took the weight the die slipped and fell, landing on the toes of his left foot.

His big toe had to be amputated and he also had to undergo partial amputation of his second and middle toes. He was in hospital for seven days followed by physiotherapy, but has since returned to work.

Teesside Magistrates’ Court was told today (2 Dec) that an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that S M Thompson had allowed a dangerous practice to evolve over ten years. Three workers were identified as using the same, or similar, lifting method, placing themselves in a drop hazard zone should the load fall.

HSE also found that no risk assessment or proper lift planning had been carried out by the company and, although there were alternatives, including the use of a loading table and straps, these were not introduced until after the incident.

S M Thompson Limited, of Marathon Works, Newport Bridge, Middlesbrough, was fined £7,500 and ordered to pay £1,120 costs and £750 Victim Surcharge after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the case, HSE inspector Paul Wilson said:

“This worker’s injuries should not and need not have happened. This was a simple and routine work activity, but it had not been properly planned or managed, and as a result, a system of work evolved that was far from safe.

“The failure of S M Thompson Ltd to look properly at the risks involved and then organise the lifting operation properly put staff at needless risk. This sadly led to the painful and life-changing injuries suffered by this young man.”

For more information about safety during lifting operations log onto the HSE website at:

Notes to Editors:

  1. 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.”

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