£13,000 bill for Leeds firm after worker’s finger sliced off

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A printing company has been fined £10,000 and left with almost £3,000 in costs after a Leeds worker lost part of his finger during an industrial accident.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Polestar UK Print Ltd for safety failings after the incident at the firm’s factory in Whitehall Road last month.

An investigation was launched after the 55-year-old worker’s finger was partly sliced off because dangerous parts of a machine weren’t properly guarded.

Leeds Magistrates were told yesterday that the 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 UK Print Ltd had not provided a safe system of work for getting into the machine to clear blockages or to carry out maintenance.

The court was told 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.

Polestar UK Print Ltd, based at Apex Centre, Boscombe Road, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, was fined £10,000.

The firm was also ordered to pay £2,997 in full costs after admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

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.”

Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society

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