A ST Helens mum suffered horrific injuries after her hand was crushed in machinery at her workplace.
Mother-of-three Cheryl Bridge lost three fingers after her hand became trapped between two printer rollers at a napkin and tablecloth manufacturer on Parr Industrial Estate.
Her employer, the now-defunct Emboss (Europe) Ltd, was this week fined £30,000 after company bosses admitted breaching health and safety law.
Liverpool Crown Court heard how Mrs Bridge was trying to clean the rollers with a cloth – while the machine was still operating – when her hand was sucked into the device in January 2009.
Mrs Bridge, 43, of Parr, was hospitalised with serious injuries to her right hand which resulted in her little finger having to be cut off and her first and third fingers severed below the second joint.
She said: “My life has completely changed since the incident. Not only can I not work, but I also can’t do everyday things that people take for granted – like cooking, cleaning, writing and even picking things up. If it wasn’t for the support of my family, who do most things for me now, I would be relying on the support of carers for the rest of my life.
“Losing the use of your hand is incredibly hard to adjust to and I still instinctively try to use it before realising that I can’t. It’s heartbreaking. The effects will be with me for the rest of my life.”
She added: “People may think health and safety is about officials going over the top and trying to make things difficult, but its importance cannot be underestimated. If you don’t get it right, you can ruin someone’s life.”
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that a guard, designed to fit between the two rollers, was not being used at the time. Instead, it was found hanging at the side of the machine.
HSE inspectors also found that rollers at the Cornwall Street factory were almost always cleaned while the machine was still operating at full speed, rather than being stopped in stages.
A spatula, instead of a cloth, should also have been used to remove the dust and ink spots from the rollers to reduce the risk of something becoming caught.
Bosses of the now-defunct Emboss (Europe) Ltd were this week fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £12,549 towards prosecution costs.
HSE principal inspector, John McGrellis, said: “This was a basic error that has ultimately led to a worker suffering terrible injuries to her right hand, which could and should have been prevented.
“Employees at the factory should never have been allowed to clean the rollers while they were still operating at full speed, and certainly not without a guard in place.
“The risk of fingers, hair or clothes being pulled in between rollers is well known in the manufacturing industry so it’s vital that firms take proper safety precautions.”