A FACTORY worker described how a shift ended in agony when his hand was sliced off.

Michael Naugher, of Seaburn, Sunderland, had been trying to fix a machine when it was switched on and a blade came down on his hand.

Mr Naugher said: "One minute I was working on the cutter, the next I was holding my arm and the hand was inside the cutter."

Mr Naugher went into shock and a colleague had to retrieve his hand, which was reattached after hours of surgery.

Mr Naugher is recovering and will undergo another operation to reattach his tendons to his fingers in the next few months.

Mr Naugher said: "It s a struggle, but I have come to terms with it a bit."

Food packaging company Karma Europe was fined £14,000 yesterday at Bishop Auckland Magistrates' Court after pleading guilty to failing to ensure the safety of employees at its Sedgefield plant.

David Cole, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, said in December 2000 Mr Naugher switched off the machine and removed the safety guards to reach the blades.

But a shift manager came on duty and restarted the machine to find the fault.

Simon Catterall, mitigating, said the company took health and safety seriously and held monthly staff safety meetings. Mr Naugher had been retained on full pay and the company hoped he would return to work.

Magistrates also ordered the company to pay Mr Naugher £5,000 compensation and £2,304 court costs.