14th May 2014
The hand of an employee at an Ipswich printing firm was mutilated by an unguarded machine, a court has heard – in events that could lead to work compensation claims.
Print Manager John Stagg, 40, was working the night shift at Ancient House Press on the Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate, when the incident happened on 10 September 2010.
Ipswich Magistrates' Court today heard Mr Stagg, who had worked at Ancient House for more than 20 years, was attempting to clear a blockage from underneath a conveyor belt on a stacking machine when his right hand got caught in its toothed cogs.
He sustained a fracture to his index finger, his middle finger was severed to its first joint and he lost the nail and a section of his ring finger. Mr Stagg required plastic surgery and was off work for seven months.
Since it is as yet unclear how well Mr Stagg will be able to perform manual duties in future, accident claims would help him win the kind of damages that could provide peace of mind following his ordeal.
The Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) subsequent investigation found a fixed guard that would have prevented access to the underside of the machine had been removed. Around 20 other guards and safety devices on machines around the factory were also found to be missing or disabled.
Ancient House Press plc of 8 Whittle Road, Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate, Ipswich, admitted breaching regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. The company was fined £7,500 with £8,272 costs.
Following the hearing HSE Inspector, Paul Unwin, said:
"This was a serious and entirely preventable incident which left this employee with horrific injuries which he will never fully recover from.
"The fixed guard would have prevented access to the dangerous moving parts of the machine while it was running, and looked as if it had been missing for several weeks, if not months.
"An interlock device that should have turned off the conveyor when the fixed guard was opened had been overridden, which left the machine running with no guard in place. Had the interlock been working, opening the fixed guard would have turned the belt off and prevented the injury."
"These machines come complete with many safety features as standard and these must be used to ensure accidents like this do not happen.