UK Government

Health and Safety Executive (London): Builder fined after hand is disfigured

Press Release   •   Sep 07, 2010 12:51 BST

A Ealing building firm was in court after a worker’s hand was seriously injured in a machine at a workshop in Willesden, Brent.

Rondeo Schoeman, 32, from Tottenham, was machining a wooden handrail using a spindle moulder. As he was working a corner piece the spindle moulder’s blades caught part of the piece and Mr Schoeman’s hand was pulled towards the cutter tools.

Maplestead Limited of Orchard Gate, Greenford, Ealing was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 at the City of London Magistrates’ Court, on 25 June 2010.  It was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of 2,000.

Mr Schoeman suffered severe damage to his left hand and spent a month in hospital after the accident. He has undergone three operations to transfer bones in each foot to replace bones in his hand, and to graft skin from other parts of his body.

The HSE investigation found poor planning did not highlight specific hazards for making curved pieces on the spindle moulder.  Maplestead Limited failed to provide suitable machine guarding for the work, and had no ‘limited cutter projection tooling’ (fitted to machines to reduce the severity of injuries should a machine operator’s fingers touch rotating parts).  There was also a lack of adequate supervision and training, which could have prevented this accident.

HSE Inspector Jack Wilby said:

“It is the responsibility of all companies to make sure that this work is properly planned and that adequate supervision and training is provided.

“Limited cutter projection tooling is a recognised standard of guarding for spindle moulders that has been compulsory since December 2003.

“Had any of these reasonably practicable precautions been taken, then it is unlikely that Rondeo Schoeman would have suffered these horrendous injuries.”

Notes to editors

  • The Health and Safety Executive is Britain's national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to prevent death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.www.hse.gov.uk
  • Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states that "it shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees".
  • Further information and advice for people in the woodworking industry can be seen here:http://www.hse.gov.uk/woodworking/index.htm
  • Specific information sheets (Safe use of vertical spindle moulding machines WIS18 and Selection for tooling for use with hand-fed woodworking machines - WIS37 PUWER 98 [20] [5] ) can be found here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/woodworking/wis.htm
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