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Timber company fined for finger loss

A Lincolnshire timber company has been fined after an employee severed three fingers in an unguarded roller conveyor.
Shaun Newcomb required extensive treatment and was unable to work for nine months as a result of the incident at Sewstern Timber Services Ltd in Gunby Road, Sewstern, on 9 March 2012.

He was attempting to clear some blocked wood from the conveyor, but as he did so his right hand came into contact with the sprockets and chains that drove the rollers and he severed parts of his middle, ring and little finger.

He underwent two operations, physiotherapy, cell generation treatment and counseling, and is now employed at a different company as he did not want to return to the scene of the incident.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the conveyor had been supplied to Sewstern Timber Services by Armistead Engineering Ltd a few months before the incident, but that it was inadequately guarded.

The company failed to carry out a risk assessment for the machine so failed to identify the potential for harm.

Sewstern Timber Services Ltd, based at Skyliner Way, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974 for failing to protect its employees. The company was fined a total of £18,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,000.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Berian Price said: “This incident could easily have been prevented had adequate guarding been in place. Sewstern Timber Services Ltd should have picked up this mistake on their risk assessment and tackled the problem to ensure workers did not have access to the dangerous moving parts of the conveyor.

“Sadly, because they didn’t do this Mr Newcomb suffered painful, life-changing injuries.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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