Manufacturer fined over teenager’s severed fingers

A Gloucestershire manufacturer of industrial pumps for the food industry and other sectors has appeared in court after a teenage apprentice had parts of two fingers severed in unguarded machinery.

The 17-year-old, whose name has not been made public, was working at The Albany Engineering Company factory in Lydney when the glove on his right hand became caught in a rotating cutter, slicing off the tops of his index and middle fingers to the first joint.

The company, whose product line includes pumps for vegetable oils used in commercial fryers, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an investigation into the incident.

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Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court was told that the apprentice and another worker had been holding a metal plate under a milling cutter to stop it vibrating while it was being cut. However, there were no guards in place to prevent them from being injured.

The court heard that HSE had previously issued the company with five enforcement notices following a visit to its Bradford site in September 2010 requiring improvements to machinery guarding including milling machines.

After receiving the notices, the company made changes at its Yorkshire factory but failed to take action to improve the safety of machines at its headquarters.

The Albany Engineering Company Ltd pleaded guilty to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 by failing to ensure the safety of workers and failing to prevent access to dangerous machine parts.

The company, of Church Street in Lydney, was fined a total of £4,000 and ordered to pay £1,962 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Caroline Bird said: “A teenage apprentice just entering the world of work, lost parts of two fingers because Albany Engineering didn’t do enough to look after his safety. He should never have been holding the metal plate and, had suitable machinery guards been in place on the milling machine, his fingers would not have come into contact with the rotating cutter.”

Latest figures shows 28 people died while working in the manufacturing industry in Great Britain in 2010/11 and there were more than 3,800 major injuries.

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