Print firm fined after worker lost part of finger

A Dunstable-based national printing company has been prosecuted for safety failings after a worker suffered a partial finger amputation because dangerous parts of a machine weren’t properly guarded.

Polestar UK Print, of Apex Centre, Boscombe Road, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £2,997 in full costs after admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident at the company’s factory in Whitehall Road, Leeds, on February 12, 2012.

Leeds magistrates were told that the 55-year-old employee was injured as he attempted to remove a blockage from a magazine insert feeder machine.

He was removing debris from cogs within the machine when it unexpectedly started up again, turning the cogs slightly and creating a shear point.

His right hand was caught and part of his first finger was sliced off. He has since been able to return to work.

HSE found the machine was not isolated from its power source and there were insufficient safety measures in place to prevent access to the dangerous moving parts.

It also identified Polestar had not provided a safe system of work for getting into the machine to clear blockages or to carry out maintenance. Access was via a side panel that should either have been interlocked to prevent the machine running when the panel was removed, or fixed into place with a special tool.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Bradley Wigglesworth said: “There is no excuse for companies to operate without protecting employees from dangerous parts of machinery. The requirement for guarding is well known and understood by industry.

“Polestar’s failure to properly assess the risks or implement a safe system for isolation and lock-off had serious consequences. Had their guarding standards been of an acceptable standard, the worker’s injury could have been avoided.”