A healthcare manufacturer has appeared in court after an employee at a Chorley factory lost part of his thumb when it became trapped in machinery.

Synergy Health (UK) Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the guards on its dry wipes machine were not sufficient, and the worker had not received adequate training.

Leyland Magistrates’ Court was told on the 4th January 2013 that the 39-year-old from Bamber Bridge had been working on a machine at the plant at the Matrix Park industrial estate on Western Avenue on 27 November 2011.

He reached into the tunnel leading out of the machine to stop it becoming blocked with wipes that had not been cut properly, and his left hand became caught in the slatted conveyor belt.

The worker lost the top of his thumb to the first knuckle when the conveyor belt forced it against a metal plate.

The court heard that the company had failed to carry out a proper risk assessment for the work, and so had not identified the risk of worker’s hands becoming trapped in the conveyor belt.

Synergy Health, of Whitehall Way in Swindon, Wiltshire, pleaded guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 by failing to prevent access to dangerous machine parts. The company was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,573.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Christina Goddard said:

“This incident could easily have been avoided if Synergy Health had carried out a proper assessment of the risks and made sure its employees were properly trained.

“The risk of workers hands becoming trapped by moving conveyor belts in well known in the industry and so it is important suitable guards are in place.

“If the guards the company installed following the incident had been there at the time then it is extremely unlikely the employee’s hand would have become trapped.”