A FIRM has been fined £24,000 after an employee had two fingers chopped off while operating machinery.
The experienced employee was cutting components using a lathe at Essex Governors Service at its factory in Wormingford Road, Fordham, when the accident happened.
After shaping the metal discs, the worker was hand polishing them as they remained on the machine.
Initially, he was using a cloth but later switched to a scotch-brite pad.
The scourer got caught in the lathe which was spinning at 1,200 rotations per minute and dragged in the man’s right hand.
His index and middle fingers became detached. After co-workers administered initial first aid, he was transferred to Colchester Hospital and then Broomfield Hospital.
Doctors managed to re-attach his index finger where the middle finger used to be.
Nothing could be done to save the middle finger.
He returned to work four months after the incident in June last year.
Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard an unchallenged culture had developed at the factory where all workers doing a similar job would polish the components while the machine was rotating.
The business, which repairs and tests devices used in engines and turbines, admitted failing to discharge general health, safety and welfare duty to an employee.
In a victim impact statement, the man said: “When I saw my fingers in a plastic bag in the ambulance they were disfigured and in no state to be reattached.
“I do worry about my finger as my surgeon told me people often ask for their repaired digit to be removed.”
He has had to give up hobbies including restoring motorcycles and jewellery because of the lack of mobility and struggled with basic tasks in the weeks after it happened.
A third operation on the affected hand has been scheduled for the coming months.
The court heard the firm had complied with the Health and Safety Executive investigation, were undertaking a refurbishment project to allow close monitoring and were remorseful about what had happened.
District Judge Paul Goldspring imposed the £24,000 fine which was based on the company’s size and their early guilty plea. They must also pay £4,414.48 in prosecution costs and a £170 victim surcharge.
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