HSE will prosecute firms that endanger employees through faulty machinery

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has renewed warnings to firms to watch out for faulty machinery, following the prosecution of another firm over a finger injury.

Napier Brown & Co of Normanton was fined a total of £3,000, and ordered to pay costs of £2,446 at Wakefield magistrates' court on 21 November.

The prosecution followed an incident on 5 March 2008 at the company's premises, when a blockage occurred on a packaging line.

In an attempt to identify the cause of the problem, an electrical engineer placed his arm in an inspection opening. His index finger was sheared off below the first knuckle by a rotating valve, which should not have been accessible.

The company subsequently carried out remedial work to prevent a recurrence of the incident, but the work did not meet the appropriate safety standard, which seeks to ensure that employers take effective measures to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery.

The HSE issued an improvement notice on 20 March 2008 to ensure that further action was taken to prevent access.

HSE inspector Geoff Fletcher said: "The company failed to protect the health and safety of their workers. The company failed to ensure that a risk assessment was carried out for the maintenance activity and that the appropriate procedures were in place and so relied upon inadequate and informal systems.

“The HSE will not hesitate to prosecute employers who put their workers in danger,” he added.