September 15, 2014

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Timber firm fined after worker loses finger

A Lincolnshire timber firm, Select Timber Products Ltd, was fined £9,900 on September 11 after an agency worker lost the top of his finger in an unguarded machine.

The 23-year-old, from Holbeach, was helping to clear a blockage on a woodworking machine at the firm’s Donington premises when the incident happened on 15 July 2013. An HSE investigation found two of the machine’s guards had been removed.

Grantham Magistrates’ Court heard how, in order to clear the blockage, the machine operator had lifted the main guard, while a fixed guard on one of the machine’s six cutting heads had also been taken off to make cleaning easier. However, the machine was still under power, and when the agency worker reached in his left hand came into contact with one of the moving cutting heads.

The middle finger on his left hand had to be amputated, and he also suffered severe lacerations to two other fingers, leaving him with only partial movement in these and his middle finger. After pleading guilty to three separate breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, the timber company was handed a £9,900 fine and ordered to pay £1,193 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Neil Ward said: “About 30 to 40 similar incidents are reported to HSE every year. Nearly all result in amputation injuries and most, including this one, could have been prevented if the cutters had come to rest before operators approached them.

“Neither the machine operator nor the injured man had been trained to a suitable standard by Select Timber Products.”


Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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