Ipswich: Firm fined after worker has hand mutilated in machine

AN Ipswich printing firm has had to pay out more than �15,000 after one of its longest-serving workers had his hand mutilated in a machine.

Loyal employee John Stagg, 40, lost part of his middle and ring finger and sustained a fracture to his index digit after getting his hand trapped while working for Ancient House Press (AHP) Plc.

The family-run company, which is based on the Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate, pleaded guilty to breaching safety regulations at a hearing before Ipswich magistrates. The business was fined �7,500 and told to pay out �8,272 in costs.

The court heard Mr Stagg – who still works for the company despite the incident in September last year – was trying to clear a blockage underneath a stacking machine when his right hand got caught in its toothed cogs.

A probe by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found a guard that would have prevented access to the underside of the machine had been removed. Around 20 other guards and safety devices on machines around the factory were also found to be missing or disabled.

Paul Unwin, HSE inspector, speaking after Wednesday’s hearing, said: “This was a serious and entirely preventable incident which left this employee with horrific injuries which he will never fully recover from.

“The fixed guard would have prevented access to the dangerous moving parts of the machine while it was running, and looked as if it had been missing for several weeks, if not months.

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“An interlock device that should have turned off the conveyor when the fixed guard was opened had been overridden, which left the machine running with no guard in place. Had the interlock been working, opening the fixed guard would have turned the belt off and prevented the injury.”

“These machines come complete with many safety features as standard and these must be used to ensure accidents like this do not happen.”

A spokeswoman for AHP said: “We very much regret what has happened and the effect it has had on one of our loyal, long-term employees.

“AHP is a family-run business, has a very good safety record and during its 160-year history has never been the subject of enforcement by the HSE or had any previous convictions.

“The accident is being taken very seriously indeed by the entire management team at AHP.

“Immediately following the incident, we implemented a formal system of checking guards with full recording of findings. “Going forward our first priority is to provide a safe place for our employees to work and we will undertake whatever steps required to achieve this.”

n Have you had an accident and want to tell us your experience? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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