Firm fined over man’s horrific accident

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A COMPANY has been fined thousands of pounds for an industrial accident which left a worker with life-changing injuries after he had two fingers pulled from their sockets as he cleaned a silo.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the plastic recycling firm, Regain Polymers Limited, for safety failings after Kevin Sharp, 39, from Castleford, suffered the severe injuries.

Leeds magistrates heard yesterday that he is now classed as 50 per cent disabled and has had 10 operations on his right hand since the incident at the firm’s plant in Allerton Bywater, near Leeds.

The court was told he put his arm up into the silo’s chute to clear a blockage, but his right hand made contact with the two rotating angled blades of a moving stirrer. His middle and ring fingers were pulled out, complete with tendons, the skin was torn from his index finger and the little finger was severely damaged.

Surgeons were unable to re-attach the fingers, and Mr Sharp has been told he is unlikely to be able to undertake manual work again.

In a victim statement to the court, Mr Sharp, who lives with his partner and has four children, revealed his ability to write has been dramatically affected and he is unable to take part in hobbies including 10-pin bowling with his son as well as pool, snooker and gardening.

He added: “Since it happened, I’ve struggled to sleep and had nightmares, I had lots of infections in my hand, I have to take tablets for phantom pains in the missing fingers – it still feels like I’ve got them.

“I’m waiting for another operation for my little finger to see if they can get some more use back, and they’ll do another skin graft on my hand at the same time. I feel as though my life is over and I’ll never be able to work again. I don’t know what I’ll be able to do in the future – who is going to set me on?”

The HSE told the court that Regain Polymers, which employs about 100 workers at the West Yorkshire site, had failed to make sure there was effective protection on the machine to prevent access by workers to dangerous moving parts.

Regain Polymers Ltd was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £634 in court costs after admitting a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.