DARLEY DALE: Company fined £20,000 after worker severs fingers

Chesterfield magistrates' court.
Chesterfield magistrates' court.

A DARLEY Dale firm has been fined £20,000 after they pleaded guilty at Chesterfield magistrates’ court to failing to guard a band saw which severed an employee’s fingers.

The court heard on Wednesday, January 24, how shop team leader Anthony Baker, 52, of Darley Dale, had been wiping away metal filings at Firth Rixson Forgings Ltd when his glove was pulled under the blade which severed two fingers to the first knuckle on his right hand.

HSE inspector Berian Price, prosecuting, said: “This involved a saw with a continuous moving blade. It caught the glove and brought his fingers into contact with the saw blade which was not guarded.

“The company failed to ensure measures were taken to prevent access to a dangerous part of machinery - namely the blade.

“This was a serious failure by Firth Rixson and Mr Baker sustained injuries and others were exposed to similar dangers.”

The court heard how Firth Rixson had failed to guard four of its blades despite available guidance to do so and had failed to take protective measures.

Mr Price highlighted the seriousness of Mr Baker’s injuries after the accident in May, 2011, the potential for harm to others, the degree of risk and the number of unguarded blades as aggravating features.

Defence solicitor Stuart Ponting said: “Firth Rixson are an old and well respected business and pride themselves on the way they look after employees. Their industry poses many hazards and they have to work tirelessly to eliminate risks.”

He added the company, which pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations by failing to fix guards on four machines, holds safety meetings and inspections, has since fitted guards and claimed the only way Mr Baker could have come into contact with the blade was if he leaned forward. Mr Baker has since returned to work at Firth Rixson, according to Mr Price.

Magistrates fined Firth Rixson £20,000 and ordered the company to pay £5,894 legal costs following the HSE prosecution.

The court heard how the profitable Darley Dale engineering firm manufactures alloy components for air space and power generation industries and is a forging division of Firth Rixson which employs hundreds of people in the UK and USA.

Mr Price, following the hearing, added: “Sadly, using unguarded machines is a common occurrence in industries of this type and it’s one of the most common regulations that we prosecute under.

“Other companies need to be aware that they need to prevent access to the dangerous parts of similar machines.”