Companies have been warned they must do all they can to ensure the safety of their staff when they ask them to use powerful machinery.
Such advice comes after the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE's) prosecution of Johnson Matthey Plc was successful. It investigated the multinational precious metals and chemicals firm following an incident in which one of its employees was injured.
The unnamed individual suffered two severed fingers after being caught up in a painful accident involving a ten-tonne power hammer. He was working at the company's base in Royston, Hertfordshire at the time.
Johnson Matthey Plc has now been fined £20,000 after an appearance at Hertford Magistrate's Court during which it pleaded guilty to two charges under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Stephen Farthing said: "The injured employee was using this powerful machine inappropriately. It wasn't guarded and was unsuitable for the work he was doing.
"It had become common practice within the company for the power hammer to be used in this way. Had better precautions been taken to make the machine safe and properly supervise activity, then the incident could have been prevented."
With this in mind, other businesses around the UK might be wise to spend a little time thinking about the conditions they provide for staff, particularly those who are using powerful or heavy machinery on a regular basis. If the equipment is thought to be unguarded or unsafe, it should be fixed as soon as possible.
It is also a good idea to invest in the latest safety equipment, so that employees are well protected against the threat of danger from machinery.
Companies that do not do all they can to ensure the safety of their staff may not only be making their key personnel vulnerable to injury or even death, they could also find themselves facing up to the prospect of a significant fine or alternative punishment.