Companies have been reminded of the importance of having adequate safety measures in place around potentially dangerous machinery following two cases where workers lost fingers.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Cheshire manufacturer Greif UK and Walsall-based bacon curing firm John Cox Cold Stores and Distribution Services after separate incidents involving the loss of digits due to inadequate safety precautions.
In the case of Greif UK, an unidentified worker lost part of a finger while trying to remove debris from chains under a rotating table at a site making steel containers.
Chester Magistrates Court heard how there were no guards under the table that would have prevented access to the chains while they were in motion. Greif UK admitted breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was ordered to pay a fine of £6,000 and costs of £3,699.
It has since installed fencing and a gate around the machine that will cut the power when it is opened to ensure such an incident cannot happen again.
Meanwhile, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told how 20-year-old Daniel Wilfred lost three fingers after his hand became trapped in a packaging machine at the premises of John Cox Cold Stores and Distribution Services.
He had leaned over to prevent bacon joint packs falling to the floor from the cutting unit while it was still switched on, resulting in his hand becoming trapped between the machine and the cutting blades.
His employer also pled guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £30,000, with £31,000 costs.
Speaking after this hearing, HSE inspector Eve-Marie Edwards said the incident was entirely preventable had adequate safety equipment been in place.
"Lessons need to be learned by employers to ensure that potentially dangerous machinery is suitably guarded and that their workers are aware of the risks involved when working with these machines," she said.
According to the HSE, nearly 4,000 people working in the UK's manufacturing industry suffered a serious injury in 2010/11, while there were 27 fatalities.