Firm Fined After Worker Loses Toe

A Southampton engineering firm has been fined after a worker hurt his foot so badly, he needed a toe amputated.

Paul Thornton was injured by a metal casting machine at WH Rowe Limited on Bond Street in May last year.

The 52-year-old from Southampton also sustained five fractures to his remaining toes and cut his head and was unable to work for 13 weeks, but has since returned.

Southampton Magistrates Court heard that Mr Thornton was working on a machine that casts large fan blades from molten aluminium, and was using a new mould.

While operating the machine his foot was crushed and trapped by a lower ram. He was only freed when colleagues were able to support him and reverse the machine to release his foot.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified that safety devices fitted to the casting machine had been bypassed and were not suitable or sufficient to prevent access to dangerous moving parts. Had the machine been better guarded, with the safety devices properly configured, then the incident could have been prevented.

HSE also established that the company had failed to carry out a proper risk assessment for the operation of the machine, which would have enabled them to establish the standard of necessary safeguarding.

WH Rowe, of Quayside Road, Southampton, was fined a total of £7,000 and ordered to pay £4,694 in costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

After the hearing HSE inspector Alec Ryan said: "This incident was wholly preventable and could have been avoided had WH Rowe carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and taken the necessary measures to make the machine safe.

"The machine in question was very powerful and it is wrong that a worker was put at unnecessary risk because safety devices weren't working.

"Incidents of this kind are all too common and it is vital employers prevent access or exposure to dangerous moving parts at all times."

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