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Timber company fined £9,900 after worker loses finger

A timber company has been fined £9,900 after an agency worker lost the top of his finger in an unguarded machine.

The 23-year-old, who did not wish to be named,  was working for Lincolnshire-based Select Timber Products Ltd premises on Mill Lane, Donington, when the incident happened on 15th July last year.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found two guards had been removed from the woodworking machine which the employee had been working on.

The machine operator had lifted the main guard to clear the blockage, while a fixed guard on one of the machine’s six cutting head had also been taken off to make cleaning easier.

However, the machine was still under power, so when the agency worker reached in his left hand came into contact with one of the moving cutting heads.

Surgeons had to amputate the top of his middle finger on his left hand. He also suffered severe lacerations to two other fingers and only has partial movement in these and his middle finger.

Select Timber Products Ltd was fined a total of £9,900 and ordered to pay a further £1,193 in costs after admitting to three separate breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 at Grantham Magistrates’ Court.

After the hearing HSE inspector Neil Ward said: “About 30 to 40 similar incidents are reported to HSE every year. Nearly all result in amputation injuries and most, including this one, could have been prevented if the cutters had come to rest before operators approached them.

“Neither the machine operator nor the injured man had been trained to a suitable standard by Select Timber Products. HSE publishes free guidance for this type of machine but that guidance was not followed.”

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