The accident happened when Ernest Henderson, aged 43, was working as a maintenance manager for Ian Goldstein’s business in Stanmore, Harrow.
Henderson’s hand became trapped in machinery when he tried to repair a fish skinning machine on December 17 2010.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard Henderson removed the machine’s safety guards and switched the equipment on. A cleaning rag he was holding became caught, dragging his hand into the moving parts.
The man’s hand was severely crushed and his index finger was so badly damaged it had to be amputated. Although he has returned to work, he finds everyday tasks difficult.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that Henderson had not been trained in how to repair machinery at the site, despite being the maintenance manager. His ability to to repair machinery had never been assessed and he was unsupervised when completing maintenance work.
The company had also failed to provide a safe system of work to follow, which would have specified not running the machine after the removal of safety guards. Also emergency stop buttons on the fish skinning machine were not working.
‘Would never have happened’
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector James Caren said: “This incident was entirely avoidable. Had Mr Goldstein recognised the dangers of carrying out maintenance work on factory machinery and provided a safe system of work it would have never happened.
“But he failed to assess the risks or to provide Mr Henderson with the required control measures to keep him safe. He should have also checked Mr Henderson's competence regularly and provided proper training, instruction and supervision.”
Caren added that all companies, whatever their size, should identify key risks and put appropriate measures in place to ensure their employees’ safety. “It is essential that those asked to do dangerous tasks such as machinery maintenance are competent,” he said.
The owner of the business Ian Goldstein, 61, of Lowther Road, Stanmore, Harrow, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He received a two-year conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £1,609 costs.