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Monday, 28 July 2014

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Cumbria firm fined after worker's fingers severed by saw

A company has been fined £12,000 after a worker lost part of four fingers when they got trapped in a rotating saw.

West Port saw machine photo
The machine

Elvin Jarvis, 29, was working at the New West Port Corporation Ltd, which trades as West Port, when his fingers got trapped in a machine that was cutting wood.

The company, which makes timber windows and doors, admitted a safety breach at its factory on the Solway industrial estate, Maryport.

West Allerdale court heard Mr Jarvis was inserting wood into the machine on March 2, 2011 when, instead of switching it off and waiting for the blade to stop turning, he inserted the wood and his right hand got caught up in the blade.

His index finger was severed at the knuckle and three other fingers were also severed between the first and second knuckles.

Andrew Jewitt, an inspector for the Health and Safety Executive, told District Judge Gerald Chalk that West Port had a responsibility to prevent such accidents.

He added: “The duty is absolute. The guarding was missing and there is a direct link between that and the accident."

After 22 weeks off work on full pay, Mr Jarvis - who had worked for the firm for 10 years and was a deputy team leader - returned to West Port, where bosses hoped to find him an alternative role. He later resigned.

The court heard that he had faced further surgery on his hand and is currently unemployed.

Bernard Thorogood, for West Port, said the company took health and safety and the training and welfare of its staff very seriously.

He added the machine was not manufactured with a guard over the exit point.

Despite visits from HSE inspectors, health and safety consultants and the company’s insurer, nobody flagged up the need for a guard before the accident, the court heard.

Mr Thorogood said there were very good and stringent processes for health and safety and the incident was something the company could not have foreseen.

Judge Chalk fined the firm £12,000 and ordered it to pay £4,075.40 costs and a £15 surcharge.

Speaking after the case, Insp Jewitt said: “A moment's lapse of concentration led to one of West Port's employees losing parts of all four fingers on his right hand, but it should never have been possible for him to reach inside the machine while the blade was still rotating.

"The company has since installed a tunnel guard over the machine's exit. If this simple guard had been in place at the time of the incident then the worker's injuries could have been avoided."

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