Firm pay out £5,000 following accident at work

The Health and Safety Executive have taken a Teesside firm to court following an accident at work in which an employee lost one finger and had another one crushed.

The accident happened in May 2008 when Colin Hicks, a machine operator, restarted an unguarded machine with one hand while his other hand was resting on the frame of it. As it restarted wheels on the machine ran over his hand causing horrific injuries.

Dr David Shallow, the HSE prosecutor, said that a similar accident in 2002 had led the company to review safety and as a result guards were fitted near the moving parts of 9 of the 10 machines. Unfortunately, this particular machine was missed and as a result it was possible for Mr Hicks hand to get caught up in it.

Following this recent accident the company, TC Industries of Europe, carried out a full risk assessments and engaged consultants to ensure compliance with the requirements of the HSE.

Poppy Williams, a spokesperson for the firm, said that all employees were subject to extensive training and safety measures and how it had escaped attention that the safety guard on this particular machine was missing was “inexplicable”.

The firm, which is based at Skinningrove in Cleveland, produces hardened steel for earth moving excavator buckets and faced a penalty of up to £20,000. However, the court heard that the company was experiencing hardship in the current recession and had recently had to make 59 employees redundant following an 80% drop in orders.

The court heard from Ms Williams that “A large fine for the accident at work would be crippling to what is an already difficult position” and taking this into account imposed a £5,000.

Andrew Patrick, the firm’s boss apologised on behalf of the company for the accident and said that improvements had been made throughout the factory, over and above those which were required, to ensure nothing like this happened again.

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