Food tray-sealing maker fined £3,500 after accident

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Accident Finger

Macclesfield-based manufacturer of food tray-sealing machines Proseal has been fined £3,500 after an employee lost two fingers in a lathe.

The worker, aged 34 who asked to remain anonymous, was polishing a 12cm-long piece of metal, spinning on a lathe at up to 850 times a minute, when his right hand was dragged into the mechanism.

The accident resulted in the worker’s middle and ring finger being cut off to the second knuckle. The incident took place at the firm’s premises at Adlington Industrial Estate in Adlington, Cheshire on March 24 2010.

Proseal was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the employee had been allowed to wear gloves while working at the lathe.

Nearly 20 years ago

Macclesfield Magistrates' Court heard that the HSE first issued warnings nearly 20 years ago about the dangers of wearing gloves while using metalworking lathes. The risk of injury is well known in the manufacturing industry, it said.

HSE guidance also advised against using emery cloth to polish metal components unless absolutely necessary, and for workers to avoid holding the cloth in their hands.

But the employee from Stockport received no training on how to polish the aluminium machine parts safely.

Needless injury

Speaking after the hearing, the HSE investigating inspector Lisa Lewis said: "This was a needless injury, which could easily have been avoided if Proseal had followed health and safety guidance, which is now nearly 20 years old.

"The company now uses pre-polished aluminium whenever it can, and has a few specially-trained members of staff who can safely touch up finished machine components when necessary.

"Proseal should have put more thought into the dangers its employees faced, and provided adequate training to reduce the risk of them being injured. If it had taken this action then a worker could have avoided losing two fingers."

The firm pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of its employees.

Proseal was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay £3,807 in prosecution costs on February 17.

HSE guidance on avoiding injuries on metalworking lathes was first published in 1993, and updated in 2004. To read the free guidance, click here.

Related topics Hygiene, safety & cleaning

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