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Firm fined after an employee loses the tip of his finger

A fabrications firm based in the West Midlands has been prosecuted after one of its employees lost the tip of his finger while using an unguarded drill.

What happened?

The 32-year-old employee had been drilling holes into metal components, when he pushed a piece of metal which was not moving properly.

As he did his finger was caught on the drill, entangling his glove so he was unable to pull it out.

He had the tip of his middle finger amputated, and had to stay off work for three months. Once he returned, however, he found that the injury was still causing him severe discomfort, and doctors decided that he needed to have the finger amputated further down to the first joint.

An investigation into the incident found that the firm’s safe system of work guidelines for the drill stated that the guard should be placed in position and then checked by the operator to make sure it is correct.

However, it was found that guard had been removed and never replaced.

What was the outcome?

H&H Alloy Sales Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,391.

HSE Inspector, Judith Lloyd, said:

“The incident was entirely preventable. The underlying cause was
that it was custom and practice to use the drill without a
guard in place. Instruction for employees was lacking
and there was no system in place to check that
guards were being used correctly, despite
having a written procedure.

“It was reasonably practicable to guard the drill and it had in
fact been guarded in the past. Wearing gloves without an
appropriate guard significantly increased the risk of
entanglement, something the company had been
provided with advice on during a
previous inspection.

“Following the incident the job was completed on a programmable
automatic drilling machine which begs the question,
why didn’t the company use this method from
the start? If it had, a man would have
been spared a painful injury.”

If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email

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