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Scottish Firm in Court over Worker’s Injury

An Aberdeenshire firm has appeared in Banff Sheriff Court where it was fined for serious safety failings after a worker was injured when his gloved hand was pulled into a metalworking lathe.

Mariusz Toporek was employed by the firm in its precision engineering department and was working on a lathe when the incident happened in March 2013.

The lathe had been remotely set to the correct new diameter by computer, but Mr Toporek had switched to manual mode and was using emery cloth to finish the pins off when the emery cloth caught in the machinery, pulling his gloved right hand in with it.

Mr Toporek suffered strained tendons in two fingers and a fractured bone in his hand, and was off work for four weeks as a result.

A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had failed to carry out any assessment of the risks relating to work in the precision engineering department or for the use of any of the machinery within it.

Inspectors also found that the day-to-day running of the workshop, including health and safety, was left to the operations manager, who had received no specific training for this role and whose knowledge was limited.

The company was fined £8,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

“This was an entirely avoidable incident,” commented HSE Principal Inspector Niall Miller. “The dangers of wearing gloves when working with lathes are well known.”

“As there was no official system of work planned by the company, workers used methods that were unsuitable and which put them at risk, ultimately ending up with Mr Toparek sustaining injuries to his right hand and being unable to work for four weeks,” he added.

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