Crystal manufacturer fined over worker’s hand injury

A crystal manufacturer based in Cumbria has been fined for health and safety breaches that led to a worker suffering a serious hand injury.

Laura Ponsford was working for Cumbria Crystal at the time of the incident in February 2015. Mrs Ponsford was using a pillar drill at the company’s property within The Lakes Glass Centre in Ulverston when latex gloves she was wearing got caught in the rotating parts of the machinery, leading to her middle finger on her right hand being severed. Despite 10 hours of surgery following the accident, doctors were unable to save Mrs Ponsford’s finger.

If your company employs people to work with potentially dangerous machinery, it is important that the proper precautions are in place to reduce the risk of injury. As part of these precautions, you should ensure you have employers' liability insurance to cover the type of work being done.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who revealed that a sufficient risk assessment had not been carried out. Furthermore, practical control measures had not been put in place to prevent the machine’s most dangerous parts from being accessed.

Representatives for Greatdale Limited (trading as Cumbria Crystal) pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations of 1998. The crystal manufacturer was subsequently fined £15,000.

Leona Cameron, an inspector for the HSE, said after the hearing: “This incident could have been prevented simply by providing guarding to prevent access to dangerous parts of the machine.

“The need to guard dangerous parts of machinery is well known with established industry guidance available, and in this case, the result of that guidance being ignored is a serious injury to a young woman.”