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Door firm fined after worker suffers severe hand injuries

13-01-2012

A door-making firm has been fined after a Derbyshire machine operator suffered severe and permanent hand injuries.

Hugo Valdes Vera, 37, of Loscoe, was working for SIG Manufacturing Ltd on Milnhay Road, Langley Mill, Derbyshire on 18 February 2010 when his left hand was trapped between two heated platens in a multi-platen door press.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which brought the prosecution, told Derby Crown Court that Mr Valdes Vera had been working at the factory for one month. He was loading and unloading doors with colleagues at the recently-supplied door press and was working at the rear of the machine when he became trapped.

The press was guarded at the sides and had a two-hand control at the front, which meant the operator had to keep both hands on the control buttons whilst the press operated. There was no guarding at the rear of the machine press, just a trip wire at low level which protected the area beneath the platens. The flush engineered doors were loaded from the front of the press and unloaded at the rear.

Visibility around the back of the machine press for anybody operating it was restricted and the employees used a 'thumbs up' signal system when someone was working in this area to indicate when they were clear. One of the employees operated the press, not realising Mr Valdes Vera was behind it. His hand was between two of the heated platens and was trapped as the press closed.

He lost part of three fingers, required ongoing hospital treatment and has not yet been able to return to work.

SIG Manufacturing Ltd, of Sheffield, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £23,154.

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