A manufacturing firm has been sentenced after a worker’s hand was crushed in a metal press at a St Helens factory.
Barry Kelleher lost his little finger and part of the palm on his right hand as a result of the incident at Crane Building Services and Utilities. The 47-year-old from Leigh also needed two skin grafting operations.
The owner of the factory, Crane Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the machine could still be operated when a workers’ hand was underneath the mould.
Knowsley Magistrates’ Court in Huyton was told the machine had been installed at the factory on Delta Road in St Helens in 1967, but had not been upgraded to comply with modern health and safety laws.
Mr Kelleher does not remember the incident on 19 January 2011, which occurred while he was using the press to mould metal parts, used by the gas industry.
However, the HSE investigation concluded that the most likely explanation is that he inadvertently pressed the foot pedal on the machine while his hand was under the mould.
Crane Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 by failing to prevent workers from being able to access the dangerous parts of the machine while it was operating.
The company, of West Road in Ipswich, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £4,560 in prosecution costs on 9 December 2011.
Barry Kelleher was off work for seven weeks as a result of his injuries, before returning to work initially for one day a week. He said:
“While I was off work, I struggled with many day to day activities and this was very depressing. I felt I would never get back to normal.
“My attitude to the injury is the same as my attitude to life in general, and that is to be positive and get on with it. But it’s been difficult and I continue to have some very low moments.
“The loss of the small finger and the damage to the side of my hand stopped me doing several things. I continue to deal with the effects of what happened on a daily basis.”
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Sarah Wadham added:
“It’s vital that manufacturers using older machines keep them up to date with modern health and safety standards to protect their workers.
“Crane Ltd should have made sure adequate guarding was in place on its presses to prevent workers being put at risk. It simply shouldn’t have been possible for an employee to start a machine while his hand was still under the mould.
“As a result, Barry Kelleher has suffered a life-long injury to his right hand, including the loss of his little finger. Manufacturing firms need to act now to prevent incidents like this happening again in the future.”
Barry Kelleher was one of more than 3,800 workers who suffered a major injury while at work in the manufacturing industry in Great Britain in 2010/11. Another 27 lost their lives. Information of working safely with machinery is available at www.hse.gov.uk/manufacturing.