Company fined £2,000 after worker loses finger

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AN animal feed firm has been fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £2,163 prosecution costs after an employee lost one of his fingers in machinery.

The 25-year-old worker was trying to clear a blockage at Merit (Feeds and Storage) Ltd at its factory, Oakenclough Mill, Oakenclough, when his hand became trapped in the machinery.

The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after an investigation found that the man had been able to open the door on the machine while it was still operating.

Preston Magistrates’ Court was told that the worker, who has asked not to be named, had opened the door when the machine became jammed while it produced animal feed pellets.

He was trying to clear the blockage when his right hand became caught in the machine’s rollers, leading to crush injuries and the loss of his middle finger.

The incident happened on February 16, 2010

The court heard that the machine had been fitted with a special lock to prevent it being opened while it was operating, but the lock was no longer in use.

Merit (Feeds and Storage) Ltd admitted breaching Regulation 11(1) (a) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 by failing to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery.

Speaking after the hearing, Andrew Jewitt, the investigating inspector at HSE, said: “A worker has lost a finger because his employer, Merit (Feeds and Storage) Ltd, failed to maintain simple safety measures.

“If it had made sure all its machines were properly guarded to prevent access to dangerous parts, then one of its employee’s could have avoided suffering permanent injuries to his right hand.”