Lost finger costs firm pounds 5,000 fine.
An engineering firm was fined yesterday after one of its workers lost his wedding ring finger after an accident at work.
Experienced team leader Leslie Anderson suffered severe cuts to his left hand after it came into contact with a cutting disc while at work at British Engines Ltd.
The 42-year-old, who had worked for the company for 12 years, needed hospital treatment and eventually had to have his wedding finger amputated after the accident on February 8, last year.
Yesterday the company was fined pounds 5,000 and ordered to pay costs of pounds 1,514 after admitting at Newcastle Magistrates' Court to failing to comply with health and safety regulations.
And it is not the first health and safety conviction for the engineering firm which employs about 1,000 people, having been fined in 2005 after another employee fell through a roof.
In the wake of the court case, the HSE has warned employers to ensure machinery is operated safely. HSE inspector Andrew Mulligan said: "Employers must ensure that machinery is operated to a safe system of work that employees are made fully aware of, and that all dangerous moving parts are guarded as far as practicable.
"If this had of been the case here, Mr Anderson would not have suffered such an horrific injury."
Mr Anderson, who worked as a fettler at the British Engines Foundry in Glasshouse Street, St Peters in Newcastle, was injured while operating a machine used to cut through a metal casting.
Mr Mulligan told the court that an investigation after the accident revealed the casting had not been clamped down.
He said: "This is to ensure that operators' hands are kept well away from the dangerous moving part."
He added: "It is this poor system of work that can be held directly responsible for the accident to Mr Anderson." The investigation also revealed the machine was inadequately guarded and that workers were insufficiently trained to maintain the machine.
Jonathan Dunkley, defending, said the company was full of remorse for the incident, but had a good health and safety record over 85 years of trading.
He added: "Clearly the company regret very much that one of their employees was injured while working on one of their machines.
"I am pleased to report Mr Anderson has fully recovered and is now back at work at British Engines Ltd."
He added: "The directors of this company are nothing short of distraught at their appearance in court."
Magistrate John Daniel said the company's full co-operation, early guilty plea and clear emphasis on health and safety meant their fine could be reduced.
Mr Anderson is pursuing a civil case for compensation.