Worker could make claim for personal injury after finger severed in accident

by Direct 2 Lawyers on July 19, 2013

A worker could make a claim for personal injury after one of his fingers was partially severed by a machine in his workplace, leading to the amputation of the finger.

A worker whose finger had to be amputated after an accident at work could be entitled to claim personal injury against his employer after the employer was convicted of breaching health and safety regulations.

Mr Joao Countinho, 41, was cleaning a machine which pipes chocolate into moulds when the accident occurred on 29 February 2012. In order to properly clean the machine he had to remove the rotors and did so. However, when checking to see whether the stirrer cavity was clean he reached into the machine and unfortunately one of his fingers was caught on the rotator. His left index finger became trapped and was partially severed in the machine. He was rushed to hospital after the accident but the doctors could not save the finger and it had to be amputated.

The Health and Safety Executive were subsequently notified of the accident and an investigation was undertaken into the incident. This investigation found that there had been significant health and safety failings and recommended that a prosecution be initiated against Mr Countinho’s employer, Ashbury Chocolates Ltd.

The case came before the Kettering Magistrates’ Court on 18 June 2013. Ashbury Chocolates pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (“PUWER 1998”) and as a result was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay the prosecution’s costs of £3,485.

It is not currently known whether Mr Countinho will wish to claim personal injury against his employer.

HSE inspector Ms Michelle Morrison commented after the prosecution: “Ashbury Chocolates Limited had a duty to ensure its employees were protected from the dangerous moving parts of its machines. It failed in that duty. The company has since installed a new guard to prevent a recurrence but it is a pity a man had to suffer a painful injury for that to happen.”

Marc Hadrill, a personal injury solicitor at law firm Redmans, commented: “All businesses have a duty to comply with health and safety legislation in the United Kingdom, regardless of their size. These obligations aren’t objectively particularly onerous – generally, businesses only have to do so much as is reasonably practicable in the circumstances to ensure the safety, welfare and health of their employees. The Magistrates’ Court clearly felt in this instance that Ashbury Chocolates hadn’t taken the necessary steps to prevent injury to its employees.”

Direct 2 Lawyers are employment law solicitors and unfair dismissal solicitors

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