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Tissue maker fined after worker has fingers amputated

28 November 2013

A major Leicester-based company has been fined after a worker had to have the tips of two fingers amputated after trapping them in badly-guarded machinery while trying to clear a blockage.

The 37-year-old employee of Sofidel UK Ltd, one of Europe’s largest tissue and paper towel manufacturers, was working on a paper converting machine when he suffered the injury on 26 September 2012.

The incident, at the company’s premises on the Hamilton Industrial Estate, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which found it had failed to properly guard the dangerous moving parts of the machine.

Leicester Magistrates’ Court was told today (28 Nov) that the worker placed his hand inside the converting machine to try and remove the tissue blockage on the belt and pulley drive of the conveyor.

His hand was trapped and the tips of two fingers on his left hand were so badly injured they had to be amputated.

The man returned to work at Sofidel after three months on light duties, and resumed normal duties after five months.

HSE found there was no fixed guarding for the belt and pulley drive of the conveyor to prevent access to moving parts of the machine, which had recently been moved to the premises from another of the firm’s sites in Leicester.

Sofidel UK Ltd of Waterside Road, Hamilton Industrial Estate, Leicester, pleaded guilty to a single breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £712 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Richenda Dixon said:

“This incident highlights the dangers posed by machinery and the need to fully re-assess risks from machinery when it is moved from one site to another.

“Sofidel UK Ltd failed to provide suitable guarding and did not take effective measures to prevent access by their workers to the dangerous moving parts.

“Workers should not be injured trying to fix a problem. Having an effective guard on this part of the machine would have prevented this employee from suffering nasty injuries to his hand.”

The latest HSE statistics show that in 2012/13 more than 17,000 people were injured while working in the manufacturing sector. For advice and information go to   

Notes to editors

  1. Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states that 1) Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken in accordance with paragraph (2) 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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