£18k fine after apprentice loses fingers in sawmill

A timber mouldings manufacturer in Rochdale has been fined after a young apprentice lost two fingers of his right hand while working on machinery.

The 16-year-old was an apprentice with Dresser Mouldings (Rochdale) Limited and was working alongside an experienced colleague on a moulding machine when the incident happened on 23 July 2014.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard on Friday that the teenager had been working alongside a colleague on the machine at the company’s Station Yard Sawmill, when a piece of wood jammed and would not feed through properly.

The machine was opened to try to rectify the problem. The teenage apprentice was looking inside and trying to help adjust the machine when his gloved right hand caught on the rotating central blade.

His right hand was severely injured, and he lost the entire middle finger and part of the thumb.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive found that company had failed to effectively prevent access to the dangerous parts of the machinery.

Dresser Mouldings (Rochdale) Ltd, of Station Yard Sawmill, Wood Street, Rochdale, was fined £18,000 with costs of £844.50 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Emily Osborne, said: “This incident could have been easily prevented if the company had suitable measures in place to ensure workers did not come into contact with the rotating blade on the machine. In this case the machine should have been switched off.

“There was no safe system of work in place for the task as well as a lack of instructions and training to ensure workers knew how to carry out the task safely.

“Instead, the firm’s failures led to a young worker suffering a severe injury, losing a finger and part of his thumb.”

Dresser Mouldings declined to comment.

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