A Maidstone company specialising in supplying agricultural machinery and motor vehicles has been fined after a teenager on paid work experience nearly lost the tips of his fingers in unguarded machinery.
The injured young person, who was employed by Haynes Brothers Ltd., had been told to work alongside an experienced engineer to carry out a pre-delivery inspection of a new combine header unit at a company site in Great Chart, Ashford, Kent, when the incident happened on 16 July 2013.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the company after an investigation concluded that no suitable risk assessment had been carried out for the young worker and he had not been given any advice on where to stand while work was being carried out.
Canterbury Magistrates heard (2 June) that HSE inspectors found that he had been asked to disconnect the drive shaft at the rear of the combine unit so the engineer could rotate the auger to check the clearance.
Having disconnected the shaft, the young man moved to the front of the machine so that he could see what the engineer was doing and leant over in order to get a better view. The engineer was not aware that the young man had moved and rotated the auger unaware that the 16 year-old was balancing himself by placing his hand on the cutter bar. The top of his left hand index finger and right hand middle finger were badly cut as a result.
Fortunately the finger tips were not completely severed and they could be reattached, however he suffered from ongoing difficulties with gripping and numbness as a result.
Haynes Brothers Limited of Ashford Road, Maidstone, Kent, was fined a total of £18,000 and ordered to pay £4,698 in costs after pleading guilty to breaches of section 3(4) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and section 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Kevin Golding said:
“The young trainee was not given adequate information, instruction and training to carry out his work safely and sadly his lack of awareness of the dangers led to him being injured.
“It is important that employers consider that younger employees may lack experience and awareness of hazards in the workplace compared to other employees and make changes to the workplace and tasks as appropriate.”
Notes to Editors:
- The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 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
- Section 3(4) of The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states: “An employer shall not employ a young person unless he has, in relation to risks to the health and safety of young persons, made or reviewed an assessment.”
- Section 11(1) of The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, states: “Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken in accordance with paragraph (2) which are effective to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar.”