A PACKAGING company based in Cheshire West and Chester has been fined £70,000 after a worker's thumb was ripped off by machinery.

Jiffy Packaging Company Limited, which produces packaging for the food industry and stationery products, failed to take adequate safety measures to prevent the accident.

The man suffered 'life changing injuries' when his thumb was severed and needed skin grafts in hospital. He was also unable to work for 15 weeks.

The company was found guilty at Liverpool Crown Court after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The court heard the worker reached through an unguarded section in the frame of one of the machines to clean ink from a roller.

The rag he was using got caught in one of the motorised cogs, causing his hand to be pulled inside the machinery.

Although the company had partially guarded the rollers and cogs of the machine with an interlocked guard, they failed to take adequate measures to prevent access to all dangerous parts of machinery.

The HSE investigation found the company’s risk assessment had been written nine years earlier by an employee untrained in creating risk assessments. The assessment did not identify risks related to unguarded machinery or any control measures.

The court heard the company had previously been served with several HSE Improvement Notices highlighting machinery guarding issues.

Jiffy Packaging Company Ltd, based at Road Four, Winsford, was found guilty of breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at work etc Act 1974 and was fined £70,000 with full costs of £53,509.

HSE inspector Adam McMahon said after the hearing: “The employee’s life changing injuries could have been prevented if a suitable and sufficient risk assessment had been completed and the correct control measures implemented.

“The day after the accident the company carried out a new risk assessment of the machine guarded the area in which the employee reached through with a clear plastic screen. The company followed this up with a written safe system of work relating to cleaning the rollers.’’