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Packaging company prosecuted after worker injured

An Essex packaging company has been fined after one of its employees sustained a serious hand injury on an unguarded laminating machine.

Gary Dean had the skin on the palm of his left hand torn away in the incident on 26th September 2011.

He was using a glue laminating machine when he noticed an indent mark on a finished product. He put his left hand into the machine via an unguarded portal to scrape away dried glue residue from a roller that had caused the blemish, but his whole hand was drawn into the roller and the palm of his left hand was de-gloved.

Mr Dean was hospitalised for two days and required emergency surgery. This was followed by several months of physiotherapy to regain movement between his thumb and first finger, before he finally returned to work after two and a half months.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found that Mr Dean had removed an interlocked guard on the laminating machine some six years earlier to allow him to set the machine up more easily. He and other employees, including his supervisor, had used the machine without the guard ever since.

Had the guard been in place they would have been unable to access dangerous moving parts, including the roller, while the machine was in operation.

HSE inspectors also found that although a risk assessment and a safe system of work were available for the laminator they were very basic, did not adequately set out the control measures or troubleshooting guidance; and staff were largely unaware they existed.

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