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24th March 2017
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Joinery firm in court over worker's severed finger
A Dagenham-based firm has been sentenced after a worker severed a finger and seriously injured two others on a badly-guarded cutting block capable of 10,000 cuts per minute.
The 39-year-old man from Greenwich, London, was employed as a wood machinist by K & D Joinery when the incident happened in 2010 at the company's factory in Chequers Lane, Dagenham.
He was edging a rectangular piece of timber using a hand-fed planing machine and was pushing the timber toward the cylindrical cutting block when his middle, ring and index fingers contacted the blades of the machine. He suffered severe lacerations to the ends of his fingers and had to have the middle finger amputated.
The incident was investigated by the Health & Safety Executive, which on Wednesday prosecuted K & D Joinery for safety breaches.
The court heard the worker, who does not wish to be named, had been unable to move an adjustable guard to cover the cutter block as it was defective, and had not been functioning for several months.
K & D Joinery, registered at Limes Road, Beckenham, Kent, was fined a total of £6,000 and ordered to pay £4,500 in costs after admitting a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The firm was also told to pay £3,000 compensation to the injured man.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Tajir Mortuza said:
"The failure by K & D Joinery to ensure the cutting block was properly guarded put any worker using it at significant risk of serious injury. A two-knife cutter block makes about 10,000 cuts per minute and if a machinist's fingers are in contact for only a fraction of a second, there can be serious injury.
"Having a fully-working bridge guard is the expected norm in the industry. It is not expensive and nor does it need expertise to implement. The fact that the company was aware of the safety issues of the machine for many months before the incident, but continued to expose its employees to the risks involved in using the machine only adds gravity to the offence.
"The woodworking industry has one of the highest incident rates in manufacturing, most of which are caused by contact with moving machinery. Had the firm fulfilled its duty of care, this worker's painful injury could have been avoided."
For information and advice about safe working in the joinery profession, visit www.hse.gov.uk
29th May 2013