An 18 year old apprentice, who does not wish for his name to be released, lost four fingers in an accident with a tube expanding machine. He had been assisting a worker who was not trained or authorised in the correct usage of the machine.

The teenager had only been an apprentice at W P Metals Ltd in Aldridge when the incident occurred. The machine guard had not been placed correctly which caused his left hand to become trapped in the mechanism. Four of his fingers were severed clean off.

Surgeons were able to successfully reattach two of the fingers, but the little finger and ring finger could not be salvaged. He is not only temporarily disfigured but does struggle with simple tasks on a daily basis such as buttoning his shirts.

Investigation Found Negligence

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation which discovered that the teenage apprentice had been lining up the tubes for a permanent employee who was neither trained nor authorised to use the machine. The HSE is the national regulator for workplace health and safety in Britain and it is responsible for investigating breaches of workplace safety. Therefore it was their responsibility to uncover the truth of whether any incident of negligence on the victim, the permanent employee or the company’s part had come into play.

Not only was it revealed that the employee operating the machine was not trained in its workings, but it was further discovered that the company had also failed to ensure that the proper guards were in place along the machine, those which protected workers from dangerous moving parts inside the machine and which would have saved the young man’s fingers from being severed. The court found the company guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 and fined them £8,000 as well as £2,740 in costs.

The Importance of Workplace Safety

This incident demonstrates how absolutely crucial it is to be aware of health and safety in your workplace. A young man now has a serious disability for life, due to a workplace accident which could have been easily prevented.

Accidents will happen, but by having the right health and safety procedures in place we can create an environment where workplace accidents are much less likely to occur. With the right procedures, safety equipment and training, incidents like this can be avoided.