A MANUFACTURING firm has been hit with a huge fine after a worker’s hand was crushed in a hazardous metal press at a St Helens factory.
Barry Kelleher, 47, lost his little finger and part of the palm on his right hand as a result of the incident at Crane Building Services and Utilities on Delta Road, Parr, on January 11.
He subsequently required two skin grafting operations.
The owner of the factory, Crane Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found that the machine had not been updated to comply with modern health and safety regulations.
Knowsley Magistrates’ Court heard last Friday (December 9) that the machine had been installed at the factory in 1967, but had not been upgraded since.
Mr Kelleher has no recollection of the horror incident.
However, the HSE investigation concluded that the most likely explanation was that he inadvertently pressed the foot pedal on the machine while his hand was under the mould.
Crane Ltd bosses pleaded guilty to a breach of work equipment regulations by failing to prevent staff from being able to access dangerous parts of the machine while it was operating.
The company, whose headquarters is in West Road, Ipswich, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £4,560 towards prosecution costs.
Barry Kelleher was off work for seven weeks as a result of his injuries, before returning to work initially for one day a week.
He said: “While I was off work, I struggled with many day to day activities and this was very depressing. I felt I would never get back to normal.
“My attitude to the injury is the same as my attitude to life in general, and that is to be positive and get on with it. But it’s been difficult and I continue to have some very low moments.
“The loss of the small finger and the damage to the side of my hand stopped me doing several things. I continue to deal with the effects of what happened on a daily basis.”
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Sarah Wadham added: “It’s vital that manufacturers using older machines keep them up to date with modern health and safety standards to protect their workers.
“Crane Ltd should have made sure adequate guarding was in place on its presses to prevent workers being put at risk. It simply shouldn’t have been possible for an employee to start a machine while his hand was still under the mould.
“As a result, Barry Kelleher has suffered a life-long injury to his right hand, including the loss of his little finger. Manufacturing firms need to act now to prevent incidents like this happening again in the future.”