A COMPANY was fined £4,000 for a health and safety breach after a court heard how a worker lost the tip of a finger on unguarded machinery.

Mountstar Metal Corporation admitted failing to ensure effective safety measures were in place to prevent such an incident.

It follows an accident at the company's factory on the Hobson Industrial Estate, at Burnopfield, last February.

Durham magistrates were told factory worker Ian Reed was operating a cable stripping machine, involving inserting lengths of pvc cable.

Emma Scott, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, said as he operated the machine his finger became trapped between the cable and the cable guide. It led to the amputation of the tip of his left hand index finger, which could not be saved. Mr Reed has, however, been able to return to work.

Miss Scott said the company failed to ensure measures were taken to prevent access to dangerous parts of the machinery.

Health and Safety inspectors put a prohibition notice on the cable stripper to prevent it being used following the accident.

The court heard the company followed health and safety advice and mounted guards to the machine.

The company, also known as Mounstar Cable Recycling, admitted a charge breaching section 33 of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was also ordered to pay £1,368 costs.