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Timber Moulding Manufacturer sentenced following serious hand injuries to worker

20 November 2017

A St Helens wood mouldings manufacturer has appeared in court after an agency trainee had three fingers amputated while working at a rotary knife lathe.

Lenka Toperczer aged 27 of St Helens was being trained by an agency colleague when the incident occurred on 8October 2014.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) successfully prosecuted Cheshire Mouldings and Woodturnings Ltd for serious safety failings.

Mrs Toperczer, who had been at the site only a few weeks, was being trained to operate a Fell rotary knife lathe. During the training, while turning a blank piece of wood at the cutting tool, her hand was pulled into the machine.

The HSE investigation found the company had failed to adequately guard the machine, so that access to the rotating cutting tool was prevented and no suitable planning had been carried out.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that although the worker could not communicate well in English, training for the machines was not delivered in such a way that full understanding of the procedure could be confirmed with operators whose first language was not English.

Mrs Toperczer suffered the loss of three fingers on her right hand and one on her left hand. She currently struggles with day to day tasks and has been unable to return to work since the incident.

Cheshire Mouldings and Woodturnings Ltd of Normans Road, Sutton, St Helens pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £333,333 and ordered to pay costs of £18,599.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Imran Siddiqui said: “This was a totally avoidable incident. The dangerous cutting parts of the machine were easily accessible and this has now resulted in serious injury with lifelong impact.

“This incident highlights the importance of getting the guarding right and the importance of clear communication, in whatever form or language, to ensure issues regarding safety are understood.”

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Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We seek to prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise.


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