Three hand injuries

Incident 1: Fingers and Hands in Rotating Machinery – Employee’s Hand Severed by Machinery

A company supplying aluminium parts was fined after an employee suffered serious injuries when using a chop saw.  The rotating blade of the chop saw came into contact with the employee’s hand, which was severed.

Investigation revealed a number of failures.  The company involved:

  • Failed to suitably and sufficiently assess the risks from working on the chop saw;
  • Failed to provide a safe system of work;
  • Failed to adequately maintain and guard the saw;
  • Failed to provide suitable information, instruction and training in the use of the saw;
  • Failed to provide adequate supervision and monitoring.

The HSE inspector noted:

“This injury was easily prevented, and the risk of injury should have been identified.  Employers should make sure they properly assess and apply effective control measures to minimise the risk from dangerous parts of machinery.”

Incident 2: Inadequate Guarding on Cutting Tools: Two Separate Cases of Workers Losing their Fingers

A company has been fined after two separate incidents led to workers’ fingers being amputated.  Employees were injured in two separate incidents involving cutting tools.  One employee was injured while cutting timber on the blade of an unstable sliding table saw in August 2017 and suffered amputations to the middle and index fingers on his right hand.  A second incident occurred in September 2018, when an apprentice joiner was feeding timber through a planer thicknesser and an insufficient guard caused the planer’s blade to come into contact with the employee’s finger, amputating it down to the first knuckle.

Investigation revealed that the company had failed to ensure effective measures were taken to prevent access to dangerous parts of their machinery (IMCA’s emphasis).  The UK HSE had issued the company with three improvement notices [issued where an HSE inspector believes there is a serious breach of health and safety law, particularly one that poses a risk to people] and a prohibition notice [issued where an inspector believes that work activities give rise to a serious risk of personal injury.  It normally requires you to stop unsafe work activity immediately].  The company complied with the prohibition notice by making the sliding table saw stable but failed to comply with the improvement notices within the given deadline.  A further extension to comply was granted, but again the company failed to do so.

Incident 3: Failure of Lock-Out/Tag-Out: Worker’s Hand Injured by Faulty Hydraulic Cutters

A company was prosecuted after a worker’s hand was injured by defective hydraulic cutters.  An employee at a waste management company was working on a fridge dismantling line.  When the hydraulic cutters he was using stopped working properly he reported the defect, but the procedure to make the equipment safe was not then followed.  The cutters were left close to where he was working, and when he moved them out of his way, the defective cutters amputated the top of the index finger of his right hand and partially severed another finger.

Investigation found that although defects with the cutters were common, problems were not always reported and the procedure for lock-off and isolation was being inconsistently applied.

The inspector noted:

“The life changing injuries caused by this accident could have been avoided if the procedure for the safe lock-off and isolation of equipment had been followed.  Employers should ensure that their safety procedures remain effective by monitoring their use and checking that they are being fully implemented.”