Maryport firm fined after worker cut off fingers in a saw
Last updated at 15:06, Friday, 20 September 2013
A Maryport company has been ordered to pay more than £16,000 for a health and safety breach which resulted in a worker having his fingers severed.
The New West Port Corporation Ltd, which trades as West Port, admitted contravening a safety requirement by not preventing access to the blades of an auto saw at its factory on the Solway Industrial Estate, where it makes timber windows and doors.
West Cumbria Magistrates Court heard that employee Elvin Jarvis, 29, was working on the machine, which cut large lengths of wood, on March 2, 2011, when the accident happened.
Mr Jarvis had to insert a piece of wood into the machine to alter the settings ready to start cutting a new batch of wood.
Instead of switching off the machine, waiting for the blade to stop turning and then lifting a time-locked guard, Mr Jarvis inserted the wood through a slot where the cut wood is released.
His right hand became entangled in the saw blade, severing his index finger at the first knuckle and the remaining three fingers between the first and second knuckles.
Andrew Jewitt, an inspector for the Health and Safety Executive, told District Judge Gerald Chalk that West Port had a responsibility to prevent such accidents.
He added: “The duty is absolute. The guarding was missing and there is a direct link between that and the accident.”
After 22 weeks off work on full pay, Mr Jarvis initially returned to West Port, where bosses hoped to find him an alternative role. He later resigned.
The court heard that he had faced further surgery on his hand and is now unemployed.
Bernard Thorogood, for West Port, said the company took health and safety seriously, along with the training and welfare of its staff.
It had 160 employees at the time of the accident and has taken on more than 50 this year.
Mr Jarvis had worked for the firm for 10 years and was a deputy team leader, training other staff.
Mr Thorogood said the machine was not manufactured with a guard over the exit point. Despite visits from HSE inspectors, health and safety consultants and the company’s insurer, nobody flagged up the need for a guard before the accident.
Mr Thorogood said: “There were very good and stringent processes for health and safety.
“We have found nobody at management level or production level who said they did what Mr Jarvis did, namely put the wood in while the blades were still running.
“Normal and proper production processes never involved access to that end of the machine.
“One of the reasons why Mr Jarvis was so well regarded was because he set himself high standards and was known as an experienced worker, and as a deputy team leader would reprimand others.
“The company had done a great deal to make this machine and its processes safe, and had followed through all recommendations that had been made to it but there was this oversight. The company regrets the injury to Mr Jarvis.”
Soon after the accident, the company added a new guard to the machine’s exit point.
Four senior West Port staff, including managing director Sean Parnaby, attended the hearing.
Judge Chalk fined the firm £12,000 and ordered it to pay £4,075.40 costs and a £15 surcharge.
He said: “This is a company with a good record of training. It clearly takes this case seriously by the mere presence of so many members of senior staff.”
West Port representatives and Mr Jarvis declined to comment after the sentencing.
First published at 14:54, Friday, 20 September 2013
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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