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  3. Ignored safety advice leads to severed thumb

An employee at a Leeds print company lost part of his thumb due to the negligence of his employer.

The Lettershop Ltd. had ignored previous safety advice provided by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), resulting in the 46-year-old worker’s injury. The employee had been printing mailings for loyalty vouchers for a supermarket when the incident occurred on 3rd December 2013.

Whilst dealing with the gluing process, the worker had noticed that some of the mailing inserts had become attached to an impression roller. Reaching over to release the inserts, his thumb was pulled into the machine and part of the bone in his thumb, along with the pad, was sheared off.

The case was heard at Leeds Crown Court, where the company was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay £9,516 in costs. The court heard how the HSE had previously issued advice to the company in 2010, although it had been ignored.

Geoff Fletcher, an inspector with the HSE, said that the employee had required a skin graft to repair the damaged thumb and the painful incident could have been avoided by the company heeding the advice provided.

In addition to HSE safety advice not being put into practice, the training provided was informal and protective guards were removed from machines, meaning unsafe practices were more likely to occur.

The provision of PPE (personal protective equipment) combined with adequate training can prevent painful accidents like this one, and may also prevent fatal injuries occurring in the workplace.

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