A FORMER brick making firm has been fined £15,000 for breaching health and safety laws after a worker had his thumb amputated when it got trapped in a machine.
Kevin Hopkins almost lost his right hand when it became trapped in a pressing machine at Normanton Brick Company.
The incident, combined with the recession, has led to the closure of the century-old company and an end to traditional methods of producing bricks in the UK.
Leeds Crown court heard Mr Hopkins was 58 when the incident happened in December 2 2010 as he put his hand into a the machine to clear a blockage of clay. The machine suddenly re-started, badly severing his right hand, which was left hanging on by a small amount of skin.
Surgeons managed to reattach Mr Hopkins’s hand but not his thumb. He now has a severely reduced function of his injured hand and left severely disadvantaged in the job market.
The company, based at Greenfield Road, Altofts, pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the health and safety of their employees. Mr Hopkins is now pursuing a civil claim against the company for compensation.
David Dixon, mitigating, said the family-run company was established in 1893 by the Kirk family but ceased production in October 2011.
Managing director Peter Kirk had worked for the business for all his life.
The company had suffered significant losses in recent years due to a fall in demand for traditionally produced bricks in favour of cheaper mass produced ones.
Mr Dixon said the firm had a strong safety record for decades before the incident.
Judge Guy Kearl QC also ordered the firm to pay £6,307 court costs. He said safety standards fell “far short” of what was expected.