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Firm fined after worker’s hand caught in machinery

21 January 2016

A Northampton luxury kitchen manufacturer, Bespoke in Oak Limited, was sentenced on 12 January 2016 after a worker had two fingers amputated following an industrial accident.  The incident occurred on 31st October 2014 when the worker caught his dominant right hand on a revolving cutting block.

Northampton Magistrates’ Court heard that the cutting block provided was not suitable for use in manual mode on a single-end toning machine. The machine was not guarded correctly and there was access to dangerous moving parts. Also the company had failed to adequately train the worker or supervise him sufficiently to use the woodworking machine. Neither he nor his supervisor recognised that the working method was unsafe.

Limited cutter projection tooling is a requirement for hand-fed woodworking machines as it significantly reduces the severity of injury if a machine operator’s fingers contact the rotating tool.  This type of tooling has been a requirement on hand-fed machines since 2003. Following the accident, the company was able to improve the guarding of the machine by making a guard from wood using the skills within the company.

Bespoke in Oak Limited, of East Haddon Hill, East Haddon, Northampton, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 4(1), 11(1), 9(1) and 9(2) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £1,896.

After the hearing, Inspector Neil Ward said: "This case involved an entirely avoidable accident. The worker’s fingers were so badly injured that surgeons had to amputate. The worker was unable to work for three months and more than a year after the accident, he is still unable to do any heavy work. The defendant company fell far short of a safe and reasonable standard in its duties under health and safety legislation."

 
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