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COUNCIL FINED OVER POORLY GUARDED MACHINERY

Heating contractor suffered amputation of fingers in pump drive belt

Warwickshire County Council has been prosecuted after a heating contractor lost most of two fingers in poorly guarded machinery. The workman the was checking a heating pump in the basement plant room at the Council Headquarters in Warwick on 4 October 2009 when his hand was injured by the running belts and pulley of a hot water pump.

Two of his fingers were amputated below the first knuckle. He has been unable to return to work and has difficulty carrying out a number of everyday tasks. HSE investigators found that the rear of the machine was not adequately guarded thereby exposing dangerous moving parts.

Dangerous parts of machinery must be adequately guarded

Warwickshire County Council, based at Shire Hall, Warwick, pleaded guilty today to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The council was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay £5,235 costs.

Nuneaton Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Shields, whom the council had employed as the main heating contractor for the building for more than a decade before the incident, believed the pump was not running.

HSE Inspector Paul Thompson said:

“Anyone, being an employer or in control of work equipment, must ensure that dangerous parts of machinery are adequately guarded and it is unacceptable that Warwickshire County Council failed to do this.

As a result, Mr Shields has unfortunately suffered serious injuries which have had a permanent effect on him – in an incident that should have been easily avoided if the necessary steps had been taken by the council.”

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