Updated Sep 29, 2022

Firm fined £115,000 after worker's hand cut off in machine

A man whose hand was cut off while he was repairing a factory machine said his injuries are so bad he struggles to pick up his grandchild.

The man from Shopshire had his hand cut off at the wrist when he was caught in the chain drive of a box-making machine while working at a factory in Wrexham.

His hand was reattached during a 11-hour operation but the man has been left with lifelong effects.

It has impacted his life in a number of ways, including that he:

  • cannot go back to his job as an engineering manager as he can only type with one finger;
  • is in pain at all times, including whenever he touches something;
  • cannot dress himself properly, or do up zips or tie shoelaces;
  • cannot pick up his grandaughter;
  • has to be looked after by his wife, who has finished worked to look after him; and
  • had to sell his motorbike which he once loved.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered the company's risk assessment was neither suitable nor sufficient as it had not considered the risks created from use of the machine, including during maintenance activities.

There was no safe system of work in place to ensure safe isolation and access for tasks such as maintenance.

It also found it was common practice to bypass a gate that kept people and the machine separated, and stand within the fenced area whilst the machine was in operation, demonstrating a lack of adequate supervision. Employees had not received any instruction on the safe isolation of the machine.

Riftward Packaging, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, was fined £115,000, ordered to pay costs of £5,308 and a victim surcharge of £190.

The man commented that "it was the attitude to health and safety there that makes me angry. Companies must stick to the health and safety rules, they have to be adhered to, they have to be followed. If companies don’t follow them, it’s a risk to people’s lives. The cost isn’t worth it. If there had been a proper health and safety policy, and it had been adhered to, I wouldn’t be where I am now".

HSE inspector Sarah Baldwin-Jones, said: "Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in that safe system of working".

"If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life changing injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented".

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