A Hampshire glazing company has been fined for safety breaches after a worker lost part of a finger in a woodworking machine at its factory in Aldershot.
Norbert Pietrzkiewicz’s little finger on his right hand was drawn into a cutting block rotating at 7,000 rpm as he worked on reducing the thickness of lengths of timber at the Total Installations Ltd factory on 18 February last year.
The rotating blades of the cutting block shaved down his finger resulting in it being amputated just below the first joint.
The company was prosecuted at Aldershot Magistrates’ Court today (26 June) after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found it had failed to ensure adequate safeguards were in place to prevent workers from coming in contact with dangerous parts of machinery.
The court was told that Mr Pietrzkiewicz, of Aldershot, was using a planer-thicknesser to work on three-metre lengths of timber. The machine had been set up by an untrained operative resulting in wood shavings blocking the revolving knife block. At the time of the incident Mr Pietrzkiewicz was sweeping shavings from the table with his hand and his glove was drawn into the rotating block.
Total Installations Ltd, of North Lane, Aldershot, pleaded guilty to two breaches of health and safety legislation. It was fined a total of £12,000 and ordered to pay £3,791.50 in costs.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Alec Ryan said:
“The powered cutting block of planers is a well-known and well-documented hazard in the industry. The dangerous parts of these machines must be properly guarded at all times, guidance about this has been in existence for many years.
“Total Installations Limited failed in its duty of care to its employees by not considering the risks involved and acting to ensure there were safeguards in place to protect workers against accessing dangerous parts. This should have included the necessary training for the use of this machine.
“If the company had carried out an adequate risk assessment of the work, its employees would not have been put at risk and in Mr Pietrzkiewicz’s case painfully injured.”
HSE statistics show there were 25 deaths in the manufacturing sector in Great Britain during 2010/11 with more than 3,700 major injuries and a further 13,700 less serious injuries.