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Firm fined after worker’s fingers severed

Date:
1 October 2013

A conveyor supplier has been fined after a worker severed three fingers in an unguarded machine.

Grantham Magistrates’ Court yesterday (30 September) heard that Shaun Newcomb was working in Sewstern, Lincolnshire, on 9 March 2012, when the incident happened.

Mr Newcomb, 30, of Bourne, was attempting to clear some blocked wood from the conveyor but as he did so his right hand came into contact with the sprockets and chains that drove the belt and he severed parts of his middle, ring and little finger.

He underwent two operations, physiotherapy, cell generation treatment and counselling and was unable to work for nine months. He is now employed at a different company as he did not want to return to the scene of the incident.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the conveyor had been supplied by Armistead Engineering Ltd a few months before the incident, but that it was inadequately guarded.

Armistead Engineering Ltd, of Albion Avenue, Acomb, York, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974 for failing to protect people not in its employment and was fined £6,667 with £5,715 costs.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Berian Price said:

"This incident could have been so easily prevented had the company not failed in their duties to ensure the machinery was safe. Armistead Engineering should have supplied adequate guarding with the machine and ensured workers did not have access to the dangerous moving parts of the conveyor.

"Sadly, because they didn’t do this a man suffered painful, life-changing injuries."

Mr Newcomb said:

"After it happened I felt agitated and kept losing my temper easily which was out of character for me. I went through a stage where I didn’t want anyone to see my hand. I would keep it in my pocket whenever I went out and if I was in a shop I would give my wife the money to pay as I didn’t want people talking about it.

"I used to fish regularly and play pool and darts. I still can’t play darts as I can’t hold them properly but I’ve managed to adapt to play pool. I’ve had to relearn how to do things like tie shoelaces and use a knife and I’m limited in what types of job I can do. I can’t work in the cold as it affects my fingers and I have a lack of dexterity in them which means I struggle to do some parts of my job. I also struggle with lifting tasks as I can’t grip properly and only have limited strength in what grip I do have.

"The incident affected my wife, who had to take time off work to look after me, and it also affected my children. My daughter wouldn’t come near me after it happened and won’t hold my hand now. My son is a bit older so understood more but was worried about hurting me and whether we could still play rough and tumble together."

Information about working with machinery is available at www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce 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. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety."

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