A SOUTH Derbyshire building product supplier has been fined £30,000 after an employee severed three fingers in an inadequately guarded piece of machinery.
Colin Poxon lost a finger on his right hand and the tips of two others when caught by a dust extractor at Tarmac Building Products Ltd’s site in the Swains Park Industrial Estate, Overseal.
During a hearing at Derby Crown Court, Judge Michael Elsom fined the firm £30,000 and ordered them to pay £4,999 in costs.
He said: “Something went badly, sadly and seriously wrong.”
The accident happened on September 27 last year while Mr Poxon was emptying waste dust from the machine’s hopper into a bag.
At the time, dust was collected in a bag which could crease and a worker needed to keep an eye on it to prevent this happening.
On the day of the accident, the 45-year-old, from Coalville, attempted to lift the bag but lost his balance and fell forwards.
As he put his hand out to stop his fall it landed on the hopper and three of the fingers of his right hand went into it. He was off work for nine months after the accident.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the dust extraction unit originally had a fully-enclosed recycling system where waste dust was blown back into a silo to be reused.
But earlier in 2012, a section from underneath the hopper was removed to try to solve a contamination problem, which allowed access to the rotary valve.
After the accident, the firm immediately fitted a guard and then redesigned the hopper which enabled them to remove the rotary valve altogether.
Tarmac Building Products Ltd, of Millfields Road, Ettingshall, Wolverhampton, pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
HSE inspector Edward Walker said: “This incident could easily have been avoided had an appropriate guard been fitted when the hopper was modified.”
Naomi Gilchrist, for the firm, said it took workers’ safety seriously and highlighted the danger to employees on two day-long events as well as featuring it in a newsletter.
She said the firm was ‘genuinely sorry’ about the incident and the injury to Mr Poxon.