Window manufacturer fined after worker loses fingers

Simon Donohue

A Cumbrian manufacturer of wooden doors and window frames has been fined for safety failings after an employee's fingers were severed by a rotating saw.

The New West Port Corporation, which trades as West Port, was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive following the incident at its factory on the Solway Industrial Estate, Maryport, on 2 March 2011.

West Cumbria Magistrates' Court in Workington heard the 29-year-old local man had been feeding long pieces of wood through a machine so they could be cut to size by circular saws.

He put a piece of wood into the machine's exit so it could be recalibrated for the next job and his right hand was struck by one of the blades, which was still rotating.

The worker lost parts of all four fingers on his right hand and now struggles to carry out everyday tasks like shaving and cooking.

The HSE investigation found there was no guard over the part of the machine where the wood came out from under the saw, which meant it was possible for workers to reach it while it was still rotating.

New West Port Corporation was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £4,075 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 by failing to prevent access to the dangerous parts of the machine.

Speaking after the hearing, 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.

"The company has since installed a tunnel guard over the machine's exit. If this simple guard had been in place at the time of the incident then the worker's injuries could have been avoided."

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