Company told to pay thousands after injuries to workers

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A COMPANY and its safety consultant have been told to pay more than £30,000 after two workers had the ends of their fingers sheared off.

Porvair Filtration Group Ltd, based in Concorde Close, Segensworth, near Fareham, was prosecuted after the two incidents which were weeks apart.

The two employees each had the ends of fingers sheared off while using guillotine machines that did not have the right guards.

The incidents, in April and May 2011, were investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which served a notice stopping work on three guillotines being used by Porvair and ordered the firm to seek health and safety advice.

The HSE discovered the company’s external safety adviser, John Whiffin, had produced risk assessments concluding that safety guards on the guillotines were acceptable.

Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard today that HSE found one guillotine was not guarded at the rear of the machine and the other was not properly guarded at the front or rear.

Whiffin had prepared risk assessments for both machines in July 2010 and advised the firm that safety guards were fine.

Magistrates were told that the ring fingers of the injured workers were ‘shaved to the bone’ by the cutting blades.

The two employees have since returned to work but struggle with some day-to-day activities.

Porvair Filtration Group Ltd, which does work for the aerospace and defence industry, pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 for failing to take effective measures to prevent employees coming into contact with dangerous moving machine parts.

The company was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £20,358 in costs.

Whiffin, 52, of High Street, Eastleigh, admitted two charges under the same Regulations in that Porvair’s offences were due in part by his actions or default. He was fined £700 with £4,000 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Joanna Woodcock, said: ‘Standards for guarding non-powered treadle guillotines have been around for more than 35 years.

‘Had the company guarded these machines properly, neither of its employees would have been injured.

‘Similarly advice on writing risk assessments is readily available and this process should have identified the inadequacy of the machines’ guarding. Had Mr Whiffin been familiar with these machines and correctly identified the risks, the incident could have been avoided.

‘It is important that companies ensure machines are guarded to a good standard and that any health and safety advice they need is provided by someone with the relevant competence, experience and expertise.’

HSE statistics show that in 2010/11 eight UK workers were killed as a result of incidents involving contact with moving machinery and more than 1,000 others were seriously injured.

Information on guarding and safe working can be found online at hse.gov.uk.