A company has been fined £8,000 after a worker’s hand was pulled into machinery. Mr Toporek was using emery cloth at the time of the accident, which caught in the metalworking lathe and dragged his gloved hand in with it. His injuries included a fractured bone in his hand and two strained tendons in his fingers. This kept him from returning to work for 4 weeks after the accident.

MacDuff Shipyards Limited of Aberdeenshire were judged to have failed to carry out an appropriate risk assessment for the use of emery cloth in the workshop. Workers had developed their own unsafe methods of working with the cloth in the absence of guidelines. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation discovered that safer methods were available but the company had not explored them. The HSE also found that the running of the workshop was allocated to the operations manager, who had limited knowledge and no training regarding the health and safety aspect of their role.

After the fine was issued by Banff Sheriff Court, HSE Principal Inspector Niall Miller said: “This was an entirely avoidable incident. The dangers of wearing gloves when working with lathes are well known.

“Macduff Shipyards Limited should have been aware of the risks to workers in its precision engineering department and should have given them appropriate training and supervision.

“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.”

Information on the avoidance of injuries when using metalworking lathes is available at www.hse.gov.uk/engineering.