Tape firm fined for its failings

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A FIRM has been ordered to pay a total of £24,000 after it was convicted of health and safety failings following an incident in which an agency worker’s thumb was severed in a machine.

Adhesive tape manufacturer Latrave Ltd, which is based on the Park Farm industrial estate in Wellingborough, was convicted of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act at Wellingborough Magistrates’ Court yesterday. The firm was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £14,736.

The company was prosecuted after 19-year-old agency worker Joe Reynolds was flown to hospital in an air ambulance after the incident on August 25, 2010.

The incident caused the main artery in his thumb to be severed.

He received complex and lengthy treatment, including two operations. Eventually it had to be amputated at the knuckle.

Mr Reynolds was in hospital for five days and off work for nearly seven months. He had only been at the firm for 13 days when the incident happened.

Mr Reynolds still requires physiotherapy and the injury has stopped him pursuing many of his hobbies, including boxing and repairing and riding bicycles.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation into the incident found the machine’s guard was missing and that Mr Reynolds was being trained in an unsafe way.

Health and Safety Executive inspector Mark Austin said: “This inexperienced 19-year-old agency worker has suffered serious, permanent harm because Latrave Ltd failed to ensure his safety when operating this machine.

“His future career path may have been changed and it will have a lasting effect on his life.

“The machine had guards missing, he was shown dangerous practices like keeping it running while fixing it, and was not properly supervised for someone who had only worked for the company for less than three weeks.

“Companies need to make sure all guards are in place on their machines no matter who is using them, but inexperienced workers need greater training and supervision because of their lack of experience.

“The Health and Safety Executive will take action against firms who fail in these ways.”