A High Peak cabinet manufacturer has been fined for safety failings after part of an employee’s finger was cut off in machinery. A worker was using a rotating circular saw to cut a piece of wood at Richmond Cabinet Company Ltd, when it severed the top of the little finger on his left hand.
The company, which manufactures cabinets for kitchens, arcade machines and fire surrounds, was prosecuted by the HSE after an investigation found he had not received training on how to use the saw, or been given suitable equipment.
The Court heard that the man had pushed the wood through the saw by hand whereas he should have been given a push-stick or another tool to use. It was also found that there was also nobody at the factory responsible for supervising the use of the saw, despite it being operated daily.
Unfortunately this is not an uncommon situation as we see many such saws that are badly or not guarded at all and access to use is not restricted. On a recent factory visit a guard had gone missing so I advised that the saw be locked off to prevent use; which was done immediately. Unfortunately, on a follow up it was clearly obvious from the volumes of dust around the machine it was still in use despite the lock to the isolator switch.
Such actions invariably lead to this type of accident and the HSE will not tolerate such incidents and will usually initiate a prosecution. For Richmond Cabinet Company Ltd they pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of employees. The firm was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £9,692.
The court also heard that when an HSE inspector visited the site to investigate the incident, he found another machine had towels wrapped around the top of it to try and prevent wood dust getting into the air. Despite this, the machine was still covered in dust.
The inspector found that the exhaust ventilation system fitted above the machine to suck up the dust was not suitable, as it left gaps. Clearly, implementing such stop gap measures such as stuffing towels around a machine isn`t a sensible way of dealing with the problem.
The company was lucky not to have also been prosecuted for COSHH failures as well as preventing access to dangerous machinery parts.