Under pressure steel giant Tata has been fined £2 million after two employees at its Corby works lost body parts in “avoidable” work accidents.
Judge Rupert Mayo imposed the hefty penalty on the UK arm of the multi-national company at Northampton Crown Court today, after a prosecution was brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Tata Steel UK Limited had already pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to ensure the safety of an employee and two of failing to monitor preventative measures under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
The charges related to two separate incidents where employees had lost fingers in heavy machinery.
On September 12, 2014, a 26-year-old employee at its Weldon Road site in Corby lost two thirds of his left hand trying to free metal tubes stuck on a painting line.
An improvement notice was served on the firm after the incident by the HSE, and an investigation found 330 failings on the site.
But despite the warning, there was another serious incident within a matter of months.
On February 19, 2015, another employee lost half of his left little finger when his glove got trapped in a turning lathe.
Both offences, the HSE said, could have been prevented if proper safety guards were in place on the machinery.
Though parent company Tata Steel Limited has suffered massive losses in recent financial quarters, new sentencing guidelines on health and safety incidents relate to a company’s turnover, rather than their profits.
Judge Mayo said: “Here were two subsequent and totally avoidable incidents interspersed by an improvement notice.”
He added: “The measures which could have prevented these incidents were alarmingly simple.”
The fines come as another blow for the owners of Corby’s steelworks.
Back in April the huge company’s Indian owners put its UK sites up for sale, putting 1,000 jobs in Corby at risk.
The Corby works are inextricably linked to the steelworks at Port Talbot in Wales where 4,000 people are employed.
If the Port Talbot plant closes, then it is almost inevitable that Corby’s Tata site will close.
But HSE inspector Mark Austin said: “Guarding of dangerous parts of machinery is a fundamental of ensuring workers’ safety.
“HSE will not hesitate to hold those accountable who do not fulfil their legal obligations, especially if that results in someone receiving life-changing injuries.”