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Written by
on 10 January 2013


Machinery caused one employee of Synery Health to lose part of his thumb during an accident that occurred in November 2011. The worker was operating a dry wipe machine when it became blocked. He reached inside the machine to try and remove the blockage but his hand was trapped in the conveyor belt. When the best forced his hand against the metal plate inside the machine the workers’ thumb was removed from the first knuckle.

The Accident Could Have Been Avoided with Good Health and Safety management

When the Health and Safety Executive went to the premises to investigate the incident they found a couple of problems which led to the accident. The dry wipes machine wasn’t fitted with adequate safety guards and the worker was not provided with adequate training for working on the machine.  The inspectors also found that the company had not performed a suitable risk assessment. Therefore there wasn’t a safe system of work in place that could have dealt with the risks that may result in hands being caught in the conveyor belt.

Injury at Work

Synergy Health, based in Wiltshire, admitted that they had failed to comply with the law at Leyland Magistrates Court on January 4th 2013. As the company breached the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations they were fined £5,000 and must pay the court costs of £2,573.

A Risk Assessment Would Have Identified the Risks

The incident could have been completely avoided had Synergy Health made sure they completed a suitable risk assessment. Risk assessments are used for all jobs and they identify the various hazards that are faced when conducting each type of job. By identifying all of the hazards it’s possible to provide suitable training and put in place control measures which are able to eliminate or reduce the risks.

Machines are known to be dangerous and they have to have suitable guards in place to stop workers from coming into contact with moving parts.  Had the guards been correctly installed it would be highly unlikely that the 39 year old workers’ hand would have been trapped in the conveyor belt. If the worker had been properly trained to use the machine he would have also been aware of the risks and how to deal with problems concerning blockages inside the machine.

It is important to use health and safety consultants to ensure your health and safety management is up to speed. You can avoid all sorts of accidents and legal problems by making good use of health and safety services. Find out more by telephoning us on: 0800 1488 677.

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.