Head Of Training, The Healthy Work Company

January 7, 2016

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Coachbuilder fined £50k after young worker loses finger

A Cheshire coachbuilding firm has been fined after a worker sustained injuries to his hand when using an unguarded planer. The company, which has previously been prosecuted for two fatal accidents, had identified machine guarding as a control measure within its risk assessment.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard how on 9 December 2013, a 21-year-employee at S. Cartwright and Sons (Coachbuilders) Ltd, was feeding wood over the planer when his fingers touched the blades, resulting in the amputation of his little finger and injuries to his right hand that later required skin grafts.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the guards on the machine were not in the correct position. The injured worker had previously used the machine with others to help with guiding wood, but had never used it on his own prior to the incident. 

The court was told that the incident could have been prevented had machinery guarding been in place, a control measure identified in the company’s own risk assessment.

The firm did not ensure management systems were in place to achieve sustained compliance to safety measures. The company also failed to monitor and supervise untrained employees entering the woodwork shop.

The court heard the company had been prosecuted three times by HSE over safety failings which included two fatal accidents and have received 12 enforcement notices since 2001, including an Improvement Notice in 2006 regarding no suitable and sufficient risk assessment.

Cartwright and Sons (Coachbuilders) Limited of Atlantic Street, Broadheath, Altrincham, Cheshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £50,000 with £5890 costs.

HSE inspector Adam McMahon said after the hearing: “A man suffered life changing injuries which could have been prevented had the company’s safety systems been properly managed. The management of health and safety systems is paramount in order for companies to ensure employees safety, wellbeing and morale”.

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