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Textile Firm in Bradford Fined After Worker Loses Use of Two Fingers
Posted by David Cant on May 22, 2012
1 Comment

A thirty year old employee of Whitaker Fibres Ltd has been left with a long term injury after his health and safety was not considered. The textile firm in Bradford employed the man to work as a wool sorter, a job which was not supposed to involve any duties involving working with the machinery. However, after just one month of working for the firm the employee was told to use a machine, for which he had no training.

The employers requested the worker go and clear out some debris in the machine which straightens and separates the fibres of wool. As he had no idea how to perform this task safely he ended up with a serious injury after his hand was caught in the unguarded machine. When his hand was dragged into the machine his glove was shredded and he lost feeling, finally he managed to get his hand out and receive medical attention.

The accident resulted in permanent scarring starting from the tip of his finger up to his mid-forearm.  He also suffered with nerve, vein and tendon damage and is no longer able to move two of his fingers where he has lost the webbing.  During the investigation into the incident by the Health and Safety Executive it was discovered that the machine was turned on and running while the worker tried to clear the debris. They also discovered that the employee had no experience with the machine and had no training on how to use the machinery or clear out the trays.

Firm Have Been Prosecuted Before

In addition to the lack of training and experience the inspectors found that the machine did not have the guard in place which is required by law. Therefore Whitaker Fibres were prosecuted for failing to follow the Health and Safety at Work Act. The firm was prosecuted on May 16 at the Bradford Magistrates Court.  They pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) which states that it is the duty of employers to ensure the health, welfare and safety of their employees as far as reasonably practicable. They were fined £5000 and ordered to pay an additional £2897.35 in costs. Whitaker Fibres have previously been prosecuted for a similar incident when a worker was injured whilst cleaning machinery in 2008.

A Health and Safety Executive inspector, Andrea Jones, spoke to the press after the hearing saying that the employee had been lucky that his whole arm had not been dragged into the machine and damaged. The industry knows how easy it is for accidents to occur involving machinery, and the use of guarding is also well documented as a safety procedure that can reduce the risks. All employers must do everything possible to make sure machines are safe to use.

Train, Educate and Audit

The manufacturing sector must do everything possible to reduce the risks when dealing with machinery. There are many health and safety services readily available for any firm unsure of how to reduce the risks and comply with the law. Training and audits are just two of the possible services provided by health and safety consultants that can help promote a strong health and safety culture within the workplace. Call 0800 1488 677 to find out more.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Health and Safety, Health and Safety Consultancy, Health and Safety Policy, Health and Safety Services, Workplace Health and Safety, Workplace Safety

One Comment

  1. May 29, 2012 at 6:45 am

    I hope that this will be a lesson for all employers that they should always consider employees’ health and safety at the workplace.

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