Finger amputation at work leads to �10 000 fine

A window manufacturer has been fined £10,000 by magistrates in Dudley, West Midlands, after an employee had a finger sliced off at its factory.

M&M Windows Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Section 1(1) of the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969. As well as the fine, the court also ordered the company to pay £2,500 towards costs.

The court heard how on 19 May 2009, at the factory in Quarry Bank, Brierley Hill, employee Jeremy Adams was cutting window frames on a double pivoting-head mitre cutting saw when his hand was caught by the blade. His left index finger was amputated and his middle finger needed major surgery and reconstruction. He has been unable to work since the incident.

It later emerged that the company was not insured against injuries to its employees, as it believed it was exempt because it employed mainly agency staff.

HSE inspector Jenny Skeldon said: "This worker has been severely let down by his employer. It was an injury that could have easily been prevented, but the company failed to ensure the saw machinery was fully guarded to prevent access to dangerous parts. The company should have recognised the obvious safety defects with the saw and taken action to prevent injury.

"Also, not having insurance in place was a gross failure of duty to its employees. It is crucial that all companies look at the relationship they have with its workers, agency or not, and the degree and extent of control they have over the work done as this will indicate if insurance is required."

The HSE has published guidance and leaflets which give practical advice on both of these topics, she said, adding: "So there is no excuse."

Further information: 
http://www.hse.gov.uk/workers/agencyworkers.htm 
http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ppis8.pdf 

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