Company fined £30,000 after mechanic loses part of finger

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A national company which employs a mechanic who lost the top of a finger in a faulty piece of machinery has been fined £30,000.

Paul Worley was working on a Mercedes car, at National Tyres and Autocare Ltd, in St Peter’s Way, Northampton, when his hand became trapped in a coil spring compressor, causing the top of the third finger on his left hand to be severed.

Northampton Crown Court heard the senior branch manager had never been trained to use the piece of machinery which had been modified.

Hannah Mettam, prosecuting, said an inspection after the accident, on June 20 last year, established the equipment was old, worn, in poor condition and faulty. She said the company then failed to report the accident to Northampton Borough Council for more than three weeks.

Miss Mettam added: “It’s agreed it was old and faulty and the base plug was missing, It’s quite obvious the piece of equipment had been neglected. The sheer pin was missing and had been replaced by an unknown object.

“A visual inspection itself demonstrated there were problems with it and a lack of maintenance. The prosecution case is this blatant disregard for the equipment, the lack of an assessment of risk and training of the people using it are aggravating features.

“This did not happen quickly - the piece of equipment had clearly been neglected. It was difficult to operate properly without formal training and it was obviously clear that all those who used it should have received formal training and that was not done.

“And no records were kept at the branch itself in Northampton.”

The Stockport-based company admitted three charges of failing to ensure the health and safety of an employee, concerning lack of training, lack of maintenance of the equipment and lack of a proper risk assessment.

The court heard the investigation found there had been no operating instructions for the machinery or any records of its maintenance.

Mr Worley, who still works for the firm, had to undergo two operations and numerous medical appointments.

Judge Sylvia De Bertodano said the issue of compensation could now be settled in the county court.

She fined National Tyres and Autocare £30,000 and ordered it pay £4,000 costs, plus a £15 victim surcharge, within 28 days.

She said: “This was a nasty accident caused by admitted failings by this company. It should not have happened but I do accept it was oversight rather than a deliberate failure and the company has done everything since to remedy the position.”

Neil Cameron, mitigating, said: “What happened in this case was a different type of coiled spring compressor was procured and the system failed to take into account that there needed to be separately risk assessed. This was not a case of the company trying to save money.”