A company in the healthcare sector has been punished after one of its employees was involved in an accident that led to him losing part of his thumb.
Synergy Health (UK) was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident, which occurred in November 2011. The body's investigation into the case discovered that the firm had not ensured adequate guards were in place on its dry wipes machine.
In addition, it was also found the employee in question had not received sufficient training to prepare him for using the machine in a safe manner.
At the time of the incident, the 39-year-old member of staff had been working with the machine at the organisation's plant in Chorley. He put his hand into the tunnel that came from the machine in a bid to prevent a blockage, but his hand soon became stuck inside and he was unable to free it from the slatted conveyor belt.
The employee saw his thumb severed at the first knuckle after it was forced against a metal plate. As no risk assessment had been completed by the business, the possibility of an accident of this type occurring had not been considered and no precautions had been taken.
HSE inspector Christina Goddard said: "This incident could easily have been avoided if Synergy Health had carried out a proper assessment of the risks and made sure its employees were properly trained. The risk of workers' hands becoming trapped by moving conveyor belts is well known in the industry and so it is important suitable guards are in place."
Synergy Health (UK) has been fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of more than £2,500 after pleading guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
The case could serve as a useful reminder to other companies working with machinery that the safety of their staff should be a major priority at all times if they are to avoid injuries and potential prosecutions.