Firm gets £14,000 fine after worker’s finger is cut off

David Morgan
David Morgan

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AN ENGINEERING firm has been fined £14,000 after a worker lost part of his finger in a lathe.

David Morgan was working at Repro Engineering in Waterlooville when the machine amputated the top of his middle finger on his right hand.

Now a judge has fined the company after hearing it was ‘common practice’ that a safety device would not be in place on some of the machines.

In June 2013, two years prior to the accident, a risk assessment found the devices needed to be reinstated.

A risk assessment carried out five months after the July 2015 incident found the safety devices – which stop the lathe from working when the door is open or stop the door opening when it is working – needed to be reinstated.

Repro Engineering, based in Aysgarth Road, Waterlooville, was fined £14,000 with costs and the fine totalling £16,342.

District judge Anne Arnold said: ‘During the course of the operation, he was cutting, a part wasn’t released from the chuck.’

The judge said Mr Morgan was ‘wriggling’ a stuck piece from the jaws of the machine, which had been on a dry run.

‘The machines started running again... in that process the top of his finger on his right hand became amputated whilst holding a work piece.’

The firm admitted breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Judge Arnold said: ‘The company said senior management wasn’t aware of the fact that the machine interlocks were being defeated but it does accept that in hindsight the company senior management should have been more vigilant and indeed aware of the process.’

The judge added: ‘It appears that it may have been a relatively common practice, although the company suggest otherwise, for the machiners to have interlocks defeated and that’s for ease of setting the machine.’

The firm said it believed just six of its 29 machines had the safety devices switched off.

Repro Engineering also said staff were trained in the use of the machines and were not instructed to have the interlock devices defeated. They said workers were specifically told not to use them with the interlock door open.

Mr Morgan was using a Miyano BNC 42T CNC lathe at the time of the incident, on July 3 last year.

The court heard the firm did have measures in place that were not being sufficiently followed.

But the judge added: ‘The breach in this case was a significant cause of the actual harm suffered by Mr Morgan.’

Figures read out in court revealed the firm has a turnover of around £2m each year, made £401,000 loss in operating profit last year but a £136,000 profit in 2015.

HSE Inspector Frank Flannery said: ‘This incident could have been prevented by more active and robust management action, it sends out a message to employers that tampering with safety devices can lead to injury and prosecution.’