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January 20, 2011

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Employee injured during first day at work

A young worker suffered life-changing injuries when his hand became trapped in an industrial press, a court heard.

The 20-year-old was working at metal-forming company JKL Industrial Services Ltd when the incident took place at the firm’s factory in Goscote, Walsall, on 28 October 2009. He was working as a machine operative and was using a power press to punch shapes out of strips of steel, to form components that are sold to the automotive industry.

As he fed a sheet of steel through the machine his left hand got caught in a trapping point between the puncher and a stripper plate. He suffered serious injuries to his hand, which resulted in his middle and ring fingers being amputated at the first joint.

The HSE learned that the worker had only received brief training on how to use the machine and there was no guarding around the trapping point. As a result, the company was issued a Prohibition Notice on 21 December 2009, which required the machine to be taken out of use until adequate guards were installed. An Improvement Notice was also issued stating that the machine needed to be subjected to regular safety inspections once it had returned to service.

HSE inspector Eve-Marie Edwards said: “This young man has suffered permanent and debilitating injuries from an incident that should never have happened.

“JKL Industrial Services did not provide adequate guarding for the power press, failed to maintain the machine properly, and failed also to ensure it was thoroughly examined by a competent person.

“Furthermore, the company had not given the worker sufficient information, instruction, training or supervision to operate the power press safely.”

JKL Industrial Services appeared at Walsall Magistrates’ Court on 17 January 2011 and pleaded guilty to breaching reg. 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £5000 and ordered to pay £2534 in costs.

In mitigation, the firm said it had no previous convictions and entered an early guilty plea. The company is experiencing financial difficulties and asked the magistrates to consider its lack of means during sentencing. The machine remains out of service, as it has still not had adequate guards fitted.

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13 years ago

I understand that fines aren’t designed to put people out of business but sometimes you have to wonder if some outfits should be trading. The circumstances surrounding this, in the context of today’s safety culture, suggest recklessness rather than negligence.

13 years ago

There’s no wonder the firm is in financial difficulties. Maybe they shouldn’t be operating at all. However, the most galling point is that, in issuing a derisory fine for such a serious criminal offence resulting in terrible injuries, the magistrates have helped the firm but made it more likely that some other unfortunate youth will suffer similar injuries: YET AGAIN THE WRONG MESSAGE GOES OUT TO POTENTIAL OFFENDERS

13 years ago

Yet again an all too often sad story that could have been been prevented. Long term investment in safety systems will pays dividends even for the smaller companies.