A welding machine manufacturer has been fined £53,000 after a string of safety failings led to a worker losing two fingers.
Self-employed electrical contractor Ian Mowbray was working at Dudley-based MTI Welding Technologies Ltd when the incident happened on 23rd August 2013.
Dudley Magistrates’ Court was told that the 49-year-old from Wolverhampton was trying to rectify a loading problem on a high-friction welding machine when he pressed an incorrect button, closing the powerful hydraulic holding fixture on to his left hand.
His middle and ring fingers were so badly crushed they had to be amputated in hospital. He was off work for three weeks and has since returned to the company.
The court was told MTI Technologies failed to report the incident to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) but it came to light four weeks later when HSE received an anonymous complaint which led to an unannounced inspection.
The investigation found the company had acquired the machine from another firm that had modified it from a safe, automatically-loaded one.
However, the modifications had altered the machine’s safety devices including a secondary guard and emergency stop but MTI continued to use it in its dangerous manual mode.
MTI Welding Technologies Ltd, of First Avenue, Pensnett Estate, Kingswinford, Dudley, was also ordered to pay costs of £3,100 after admitting to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
After the hearing, HSE inspector John Glynn said it was “grossly negligent” to allow the use of the machine in its own premises in its modified state.
“The company builds and sells its welding machines to major manufacturing companies worldwide,” he said.
“As original manufacturers they are fully aware of the legal requirements to supply machines with all the required safety measures.
“MTI Welding Technologies Ltd entirely failed to consider the risk to workers while engaged in manual operations.
“Had they done so, a man would not have suffered a serious, painful injury.”