Manufacturer could face civil suit over workplace injury

Manufacturer could face civil suit over workplace injury 25627

A Cumbrian manufacturer of wooden doors and window frames could face legal action after a work accident resulted in a staff member's fingers being severed.

The New West Port Corporation, which commonly trades as West Port, was taken to court by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a series of guideline breaches contributed to a workplace injury.

West Cumbria Magistrates' Court heard that an unnamed 29-year-old man was asked by bosses to feed long pieces of wood through a machine so they could be shaped to become window and door frames by circular saws.

But as he placed one of the objects into the equipment's exit so it could be properly calibrated, his right hand was struck by a blade that was still rotating quickly.

The unnamed man lost sections of all four fingers on his right hand and cannot complete everyday actions like shaving and cooking, the court heard.

A subsequent HSE investigation discovered that no guard had been put in place for the machine and this meant it was possible for staff members to put their limbs near rotating components - as was the case for the 29-year-old worker injured in 2011.

West Port was fined £12,000 and told to pay £4,075 to prosecutors in order to cover legal costs after it pleaded guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Speaking after the trial, HSE inspector Andrew Jewitt said: "It's a basic legal requirement that all industrial machinery is properly guarded to protect workers from dangerous moving parts.

"A moment's lapse of concentration led to one of West Port's employees losing parts of all four fingers on his right hand, but it should never have been possible for him to reach inside the machine while the blade was still rotating."

Figures released recently by the HSE revealed that 20 people were killed in the manufacturing sector in the UK during 2012-13 and improvements need to be made in making equipment safer for personnel.

By Francesca Witney