Tool manufacturer fined after worker loses finger

A tool manufacturer has been fined – and reminded that gloves do not mix safely with rotating machinery - after one of its workers lost a finger when it became trapped.

C.M.A Tools (Burnley) was prosecuted by Britain's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at its factory in Burnley last year.  The Magistrates’ Court heard that Paul Whittaker, 30 from Burnley, was using a piece of emery cloth to reduce the size of a metal component on a metalworking lathe.

The cloth became trapped by the rotating mechanism, pulling in his right hand. Mr Whittaker was also wearing a glove which pulled his hand further into the machinery.

Reedley Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Whittaker had not received training on how to operate the machine safely, nor on the dangers of using emery cloths on metalworking lathes.

“Paul Whittaker has been unable to return to work and his injury has significantly affected his ability to grip and lift with his right hand. Sadly injuries like the one he suffered are all too common,” said HSE Inspector Imran Siddiqui. “A significant proportion of incidents at lathes are caused by emery clothes being used in an unsafe way. If Mr Whittaker had been warned against using a piece of emery cloth while he worked on the lathe, he would not have lost his finger.”

The HSE investigation found that the company had failed to adequately assess the risks of using emery cloths on rotating mechanisms, and had not implemented a safe system of work to control the risks. CMA Tools pleaded guilty to breaching Health and Safety at Work laws by failing to ensure the safety of its employees. The company was ordered to pay a fine of £1000 plus costs of another £1000.

Imran Siddiqui added: “Workers should have been instructed to use a suitable tool to handle emery cloth so that their hands could not become trapped. This incident is also a reminder that gloves should not be worn when working with rotating parts. I hope manufacturers learn lessons from this case so that no more workers suffer permanent injuries in the future.”

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