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Steel firm fined after 17-year-old worker severs finger

26 April 2013

A West Midlands steel products manufacturer and its director have been prosecuted for safety failings after a 17-year-old worker seriously injured his hand on a moving saw blade.

The teenager, who does not wish to be named, severed the thumb, part of his little finger and all the remaining fingers on his left hand in the incident at JSF Stainless Ltd, at Chase Road, Brownhills, on 1 June 2011.

Walsall Magistrates’ Court heard today (18 April) that he was asked to clean a steel cutting saw by company director Richard Lancaster while the blade was still moving.

He had never used the machine and didn’t know how to stop the blade. He attempted the clean regardless and in doing so the saw caught his left hand, taking three fingers and his thumb clean off and partially severing his little finger.

He has so far had nine operations. Surgeons successfully reattached his ring finger and middle finger and were able to attach his index finger as a thumb. His little finger was also successfully repaired and he now works at another company.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the teenager should never have been instructed to clean dangerous equipment that was still in operation. He should have been provided with appropriate training on how to make the machine safe to clean and should have been suitably supervised.

JSF Stainless Ltd, of Chase Road, Brownhills, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £13,000 in costs.

Director Richard Lancaster, age 35, of Chase Road, Brownhills, pleaded not guilty to the same breach by virtue of Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.  He was fined £2,000 and with costs of £2,630

After the hearing HSE inspector Eve-Marie Edwards said: "This incident should not have happened. A young man has suffered the painful trauma of losing his fingers and thumb. He has been left with a permanent injury that will affect him for the rest of his life.  This was his first job. He was asked to clean the saw while the blade was moving by an experienced individual who knew better, and who should have ensured the machine was made safe. Appropriate supervision should have been provided throughout but was not."

 
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