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July 1, 2014

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Court hears how worker’s palm was amputated following company’s ‘lack of diligence’

A Warwickshire company appeared in court yesterday (30 June) following an incident in 2013 in which a worker suffered horrific hand injuries in an incorrectly-guarded machine. It was heard how the 56-year-old agency worker, who needed amputation to three and a half fingers and half of his palm, was left severely disabled by the ‘entirely preventable’ accident.

RSM Industries Ltd, a company which makes metal components for the automotive industry, appeared before magistrates following an HSE investigation into the incident.

Nuneaton Magistrates’ court heard how the worker, who has asked not to be named, was operating a 160-tonne power press at the company’s factory in School Lane, Exhall, when the incident happened on 8 May 2013.

He had his hand in the machine removing finished pieces of metal when he accidentally hit the foot pedal, causing the machine to start up. His right hand was crushed and he had to have three and a half fingers and half his palm amputated.

The investigation found the machine had had new guards fitted but the interlock, which prevented the press from operating if the guards were anything other than fully closed, had not been correctly adjusted and set.

In addition the company’s daily checks failed to pick up the fault with the guards on 12 separate occasions.

RSM Industries Ltd pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £8,000 with £11,300 costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE principal inspector Sue Thompson, said: “The worker suffered life-changing injuries. He spent 35 hours in surgery undergoing seven different operations and is now severely disabled with the loss of his dominant hand. He has not been able to return to work and is still receiving treatment.

“Yet this incident was entirely preventable had the company thoroughly examined the machine before it was brought back into use and carried out adequate daily checks. The fact the fault was missed a dozen different times shows a complete lack of diligence.”

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