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UK – Manufacturer fined as “inexperienced” agency worker has thumb amputated

17 May 2012

The adhesive tape manufacturer Latrave Ltd has been prosecuted after a 19-year-old agency worker severed his thumb in machinery at a factory in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation revealed the machine's guard was absent when the incident happened and concluded that the worker was being trained in an unsafe way.

“This inexperienced 19-year-old agency worker has suffered serious, permanent harm because Latrave Ltd failed to ensure his safety when operating this machine. His future career path may have been changed and it will have a lasting effect on his life,” said HSE inspector Mark Austin.

The national regulator for workplace health and safety HSE also said that the temporary worker, who did not want to be named, had only been working at the company for three weeks when he was injured on 25 August 2010.

He was being trained to fix a known problem on a running printing press when his left hand was pulled in between two rollers. As a result of his injury, he had part of his thumb amputated and spent five days in hospital while he could not go to work for almost seven months. He still requires treatment, the HSE said.

Yesterday, on 16 May, Wellingborough magistrates found Latrave Ltd, of Park Farm Industrial Estate, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

This states that “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

The firm was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £14,736 for failing to comply with the act.

“The machine had guards missing, he was shown dangerous practices like keeping it running while fixing it, and was not properly supervised for someone who had only worked for the company for less than three weeks,” said Mr Austin after the hearing.

He warned that companies need to ensure “all guards are in place on their machines no matter who is using them, but inexperienced workers need greater training and supervision because of their lack of experience. HSE will inevitably take action against firms who fail in these ways.”

The HSE is the UK’s national regulator for workplace health and safety, aiming to prevent death, injury and ill health. 


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