Plymouth plastering firm fined after worker loses thumb in horror accident
A PLYMOUTH plastering company has been fined for safety failings after an agency worker seriously injured his hand on a poorly guarded screed mixer.
The labourer, who does not want to be named, lost his left thumb as a result of the incident at North Devon Leisure Centre in Barnstaple on March 27 last year.
It was badly cut by a rotating blade and had to be removed in hospital.
Mutley-based J H Lidstone (Plastering) Ltd, who had temporarily hired the worker, was prosecuted on Friday by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation revealed the incident could have been avoided.
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Plymouth Magistrates’ Court heard the labourer was helping with the refurbishment of the pool and changing areas at the leisure centre, and specifically floor and tiling work that had been subcontracted to J H Lidstone.
He was using a mixer to prepare screed when his hand fell into the machine as he went to pour in a bag of cement. It was running at the time and the rotating metal blades within caught his thumb before he recoiled in excruciating pain.
HSE established that the mixer was inadequately guarded to prevent access to dangerous moving parts because of a badly maintained interlock. It was clogged with dried cement and was completely ineffective.
The court was told there was no evidence that the guard had been deliberately disabled, and heard the mixer was subsequently made safe to comply with a Prohibition Notice requiring urgent improvement.
J H Lidstone (Plastering) Ltd, of Crozier Road, Mutley, Plymouth, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £3,724 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Helena Allum said: “The labourer’s painful injury should not and need not have happened. It was easily preventable had the interlock been properly maintained.
“Guards and safety systems are there for a reason, and companies have a legal duty of care to ensure they are properly fitted and are working effectively at all times.
"Being drawn into machines because of inadequate guarding happens far too regularly, and the importance of robust safeguards to protect workers gaining access to dangerous moving machinery cannot be overstated."