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pounds 5,500 bill after worker loses finger; PLASTICS FIRM BROKE HEALTH AND SAFETY RULES.

Byline: LINDA RICHARDS

A COMPANY was hit with a pounds 5,500 bill after a worker lost his finger in machinery.

Cory Burns had to have the little finger of his right hand amputated after he got it trapped in equipment producing plastic food trays.

The trainee had pushed a pause button before attempting to clear a jam, but the machinery moved while he was carrying out the work.

HFW Plastics Ltd, of Albany Road, Gateshead, was yesterday fined pounds 3,500 and ordered to pay pounds 2,000 costs after admitting breaching its general duty to an employee over the incident in June, 2007.

And Gateshead Magistrates heard the company was convicted of breaking health and safety legislation in 1999 and 2006.

But Health and Safety Executive inspector Zoe Feather said it had improved training and procedures since being taken over by new management.

Miss Feather told the court Mr Burns was injured after the company by-passed the manufacturer's safety instructions for the machinery.

She said it was common practice on the shop floor for workers to tackle jams in this way and it was the employer's responsibility not to put them at risk.

Hazel Padmore, defending, said since March both the management and health and safety had changed significantly, with improvements in place to make sure similar accidents did not happen again in the future..

She asked magistrates to be lenient with the company - which could have faced a fine of up to pounds 20,000 - as it had suffered significant losses over the last two years.

When the accident happened, it employed 128 people but now it has 81 staff and another three jobs are earmarked to go in the next few weeks.

After the case, Miss Feather warned employers not to neglect their duties.

She said: "During production, blockages and jams often occur in machinery, leading to a high number of accidents in the workplace, when employees attempt to clear them themselves.

"Employers who operate machinery are required to establish how this work can be undertaken safely. They must also put in place adequate safeguards and safe working practices to ensure employees are not exposed to dangerous parts of machinery."
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 10, 2009
Words:364
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