Plastics Firm in Court after Work Accident

Plastics firm in court over saw accident 25811

A company in Birmingham has been fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a worker severed four fingers in an industrial accident.

The employee, who has asked to remain anonymous, was trying to clear a machine blockage at the Kalsi Plastics plant in Tyseley, West Midlands, when he sustained the injury.

Members of the public in the viewing gallery at Birmingham Magistrates' Court were told that, contrary to the worker's expectations, a saw automatically moved from its default position to a preset maintenance stance as he moved his hand inside the machine. 

As it did this, the man's left hand came into the contact with the blade and cut off four of his fingers.

Doctors were unable to reattach the fingers and it has not been possible for him to return to his job since the work accident, which took place in August 2012.

After being informed of the accident, the HSE launched an investigation and found the motor on the machine had not been properly fitted with an injection brake, meaning the saw continued to rotate for five minutes after the stop button was pressed.

For its part in this equipment failure, Kalsi Plastics was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £2,418 in legal costs after it pleaded guilty to breaching a section of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Following the trial, HSE inspector Pam Folsom said, "A number of employees knew that the blade continued to rotate after the power was cut but neither Kalsi Plastics UK management nor its health and safety consultant were aware of the issue. 

"Employees were not represented in safety meetings so that known issues could be highlighted and control measures implemented. This accident also shows the importance of staff having a voice in management meetings."

Unguarded equipment remains a common hazard in workplaces across the UK and recent attempts by the HSE to crack down on the issue have led to dozens of prosecutions.

By Chris Stevenson