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Cumbrian window firm fined over severed fingers

Date:
18 September 2013

A Cumbrian manufacturer of wooden doors and window frames has been fined for safety failings after an employee’s fingers were severed by a rotating saw.

The New West Port Corporation Ltd, which trades as West Port, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at its factory on the Solway Industrial Estate in Maryport on 2 March 2011.

West Cumbria Magistrates’ Court in Workington heard the 29-year-old local man had been feeding long pieces of wood through a machine so they could be cut to size by circular saws.

He then put a piece of wood into the machine’s exit so it could be recalibrated for the next job when his right hand was struck by one of the blades, which was still rotating.

The worker lost parts of all four fingers on his right hand and now struggles to carry out everyday tasks like shaving and cooking.

The HSE investigation found there was no guard over the part of the machine where the wood came out from under the saw, which meant it was possible for workers to reach it while it was still rotating.

The New West Port Corporation Ltd was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £4,075 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 by failing to prevent access to the dangerous parts of the machine.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Andrew Jewitt said:

"It’s a basic legal requirement that all industrial machinery is properly guarded to protect workers from dangerous moving parts.

"A moment’s lapse of concentration led to one of West Port’s employees losing parts of all four fingers on his right hand, but it should never have been possible for him to reach inside the machine while the blade was still rotating.

"The company has since installed a tunnel guard over the machine’s exit. If this simple guard had been in place at the time of the incident then the worker’s injuries could have been avoided."

The latest figures show 20 people were killed while working in the manufacturing industry in Great Britain in 2012/13. Information on improving safety is available at www.hse.gov.uk/manufacturing.

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. www.hse.gov.uk.
  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 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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