A PLASTICS firm has been prosecuted after a worker’s fingers were severed in machinery.

Knutsford polymer distribution company Albis (UK) Limited has been fined £33,000 after an employee’s hand was trapped in machinery whilst attempting to remove a blockage.

A worker was filling an automatic loading machine when a blockage occurred in the chute, preventing the product from dropping into the mixer, Manchester Magistrates Court heard on November 11.

The male employee opened the mixer to insert his hand into the chute to remove the blockage, when his fingers became caught in a shut off flap.

The index finger of his right hand became trapped, resulting in the loss of the tip of his index finger below the first joint and the tip of his middle finger above the first joint.

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The incident happened on October 12, 2018.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), found that the company had made alterations to the roof area of the premises sometime before the incident.

Due to these, the length of the chute had had to be decreased making access to dangerous parts of the machine possible.

A risk assessment had not been carried out subsequent to the shortening of the chute, neither had operatives been fully instructed on how to unblock the autoloader.

The machine had also been reconfigured unbeknown to the safety manager, allowing the valve to continue moving when the interlock had been broken.

The machine should have cut out when the mixer lid was opened, but it failed to do so, resulting in the incident.

Albis (UK) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety at work regulations at its former premises on Montgomery Way, Parkgate Industrial Estate.

In determining the fine, magistrates cited the firm's 'exemplary health and safety record' with no previous incidents or convictions.

The company, which moved to Booths Park earlier this year after its previous site was sold for £6.3 million, was fined £33,000 and ordered to pay £3,684 costs and £170 victim surcharge.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Martin Heywood said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided.

“Employers should ensure they carry out an assessment of the risks and put in safe system of works for the operation of all machinery.

“Employers should also ensure that adequate information, instruction and training is provided to all who use it."

Josephine Bagnall, managing director of Albis (UK) Ltd, said: "We deeply regret the accident. Every workplace accident is one too many.

"Preventing and avoiding accidents at work is a top priority in our organisation, which is why we have invested in comprehensive occupational safety measures and continue to develop them."