A MANUFACTURING firm has been fined £6,000 after a worker’s hand was crushed between rollers on a glue machine and a broken guard.

The 59-year-man was attempting to clean the glue rolling machine at Elite Composite Products Limited in Trimdon Grange, County Durham, when the accident occurred on September 3, 2012.

The man had lifted a hinged guard to access the rollers but as he did so his right hand was dragged between the moving parts.

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Magistrates in Peterlee today (Tuesday, May 6) heard that the worker, of Trimdon Grange, suffered a “serious crushing injury,” including damage to his wrist, thumb and skin.

He was in hospital for four days and required physiotherapy for five months, before he could be phased back into work.

Health and safety inspector Cain Mitchell, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive, described how the guard covering the rollers was connected to an interlocking safety device designed to stop the rollers turning when it was raised.

An investigation revealed the device was broken and that there was no safety check system in place to identify the problem.

Mr Mitchell said: “This incident could have been prevented if Elite Composite Products Ltd had systems in place to identify faults on the machinery and its safety systems.

“Had this been the case, the broken safety device would have been spotted and the company could have repaired it to ensure that workers did not come into contact with the dangerous moving machine parts.”

Elite Composite Products Limited, of Trimdon Grange Industrial Estate, pleaded guilty to contravening a health and safety regulation.

Neena Sharman, mitigating, said the company, which makes interior panels for use in transportation, recreation, agriculture and industry, had an unblemished health and safety record prior to the accident and was pleading guilty on the grounds of “falling slightly short.”

She said staff were supposed to notify management of any faults but the victim and his co-worker, both experienced employees, had not reported the broken safety device, despite it being defective for several weeks.

“Had they have done so it would have been fixed straight away,” she added.

The court heard how a formal checking system had since been introduced and further safety improvement had been made.

As well as the £6,000 fine, Elite Composite Products Limited was ordered to pay £3,138.50 prosecution costs and a £120 victim surcharge.