The importance of protecting staff and ensuring they are fully equipped and educated to avoid potentially dangerous incidents in the workplace has once again been highlighted by a prosecution carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Nottingham-based Murphy & Sons, a company that offers processing support to businesses in the food trade, was found to have contributed to an accident in which worker Albert McEvoy, 53, lost the ends of four of his fingers.
Mr McEvoy was attempting to feed clogged powder into an industrial mixer at the firm's headquarters when disaster struck in March last year. As he did so, his fingers struck the rotating blades and he was injured.
He was forced to spend several months off work and, although he has now returned to his job, he struggles with some relatively simple tasks. The HSE's investigation uncovered the fact that he was let down by a lack of an adequate guard protecting the machine.
For its role in the incident, Murphy & Sons was fined £20,000, while it must also pay more than £7,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
Speaking after the sentence was announced, HSE inspector Jayne Towey said: "The risk was entirely foreseeable, but no-one at the company had the foresight to consider the mixer was inadequately guarded. This was despite the fact that clear industry guidance is readily available and the fact that a large number of workers are injured on poorly guarded machines every year."
With this case in mind, companies in all trades in the UK might be wise to ensure the machines they use are guarded and working correctly, so that staff are not injured when operating them. It does not matter whether the machines are used every day or rarely, they can still pose a threat.
Such action could pay off handsomely in the long run as firms are perhaps more likely to avoid being prosecuted for incidents.