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A plastic recycling company has been prosecuted after a member of staff suffered two severed fingers in a work accident.
Leeds Magistrates' Court heard on Friday (November 29th) how 39-year-old Kevin Sharp was working for Regain Polymers of Allerton Bywater at the time of the accident in December last year.
An investigation launched by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) in the wake of the incident revealed Mr Sharp had been cleaning a large silo at the facility when a valve he needed to open to empty the equipment became blocked.
Inserting his right arm into the chute to clear the blockage, his hand came into contact with two rotating blades that pulled his ring and middle fingers clean out of their sockets, along with the tendons.
Surgeons were later unable to reattach the fingers due to the extent of the injuries.
Mr. Sharp is now officially classed as 50 per cent disabled due to his injuries and has undergone ten operations on his right hand. It is now unlikely he will be able to undertake manual work again in the future.
The company was shown to have failed in its duty of care to Mr Sharp, as a shut-off switch for the chute's stirring device had been disabled, meaning the blades could rotate while the slide valve to empty the silo was open - a severe hazard to health and safety as has been highlighted in this case.
HSE inspector Kate Dixon commented after the hearing: "Companies should ensure that the measures they take to guard dangerous parts of machines are effective and maintained in working condition. Visual and functional checks of machinery and guarding arrangements need to be carried out and documented on a regular basis.
"Had these measures been in place, Mr Sharp may not have suffered the injury that will now affect him for the rest of his life."
Regain Polymers pleaded guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £8,000 as a result of the man's injuries.
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