Tray sealing producer fined after worker loses fingers, overhauls safety procedures

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

The lathe that caused the worker's injuries
The lathe that caused the worker's injuries
Packaging producer Proseal has been ordered to pay more than £7,000 (€8,350) by UK authorities after one of its workers had two fingers severed in an accident at its plant.

The tray sealing machine producer was fined £3,500 and obliged to pay legal costs of £3,807 after an investigation found it had breached health and safety rules at its facility in northern England.

The probe was launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the wake of an incident in 2010 when an employee was injured while polishing a 12-centimetre-long piece of metal, spinning on a lathe at up to 850 times a minute.

Proseal has since enhanced its safety practices at the factory, confirmed officials.

Guidance nearly 20 years old

The worker’s right hand was dragged into the mechanism and his middle and ring finger were cut off to the second knuckle at the plant in Adlington.

Proseal was prosecuted after the safety body found the firm had allowed the man to wear gloves while working at the machine, in breach of safety guidance issued almost two decades ago.

Macclesfield Magistrates' Court was told the recommendation warned of the dangers of wearing gloves while using metalworking lathes, and the risk of injury is well known in the manufacturing industry.

The guidance also advises against using emery cloth to polish metal components unless absolutely necessary, and for workers to avoid holding the cloth in their hands.

The HSE investigation found the 34-year-old employee had not been given any training on how to safely polish the aluminium machine parts.

Proseal (UK) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of its employees.

Needless injury

The HSE criticised the company saying it the accident was avoidable.

"This was a needless injury which could easily have been avoided if Proseal had followed health and safety guidance, which is now nearly 20 years old,”​ said HSE inspector Lisa Lewis.

She added: "Proseal should have put more thought into the dangers its employees faced, and provided adequate training to reduce the risk of them being injured. If it had taken this action then a worker could have avoided losing two fingers."

Safety review

The body confirmed that the packaging company had taken action to strengthen health and safety at the plant.

It now uses pre-polished aluminium whenever possible, and has specially-trained members of staff who can safely touch up finished machine components when necessary, said the HSE.

Company director Steve Malone told “Proseal takes the health and safety of its employees extremely seriously, and we sincerely regret the injury to one of our team. We have fully co-operated with the subsequent investigation and implemented new procedures as a result.”

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