Saint-Gobain Weber fined after horrific hand injury

Tiling company Saint-Gobain Weber has been fined £16,000 after a man’s finger and thumb were severed as he tried to unblock machinery.
Production supervisor Simon Partridge was in charge of the night-shift at Saint-Gobain Weber Ltd, in Flitwick, Bedfordshire, when he suffered the injuries in November 2007.

A waste extraction system became blocked and Partridge tried to clear the blockage with his left hand and it became entangled in the rotary valve. His finger and thumb were cut off by the machine and could not be saved, despite extensive surgery.

Investigations by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the machine’s safety guards could be removed by members of staff using tools the company had provided.

Saint-Gobain Weber admitted breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Magistrates fined the company £16,000 with £3,560 in costs.

HSE inspector Graham Tompkins said: “Unfortunately this kind of horrific injury is all too common. This case would not have happened if a suitable system of work had been used, including power isolation arrangements and safety guards that were not so easily bypassed. Employers have a legal obligation to protect the safety of their workers and help prevent serious injuries like this occurring. HSE will not hesitate to prosecute when companies fail in this basic duty.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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