PRF Engineering fined £6000 over lost fingers

Posted on 5 Sep 2012

Lancashire-based manufacturer of outdoor shelters PRF Engineering, has appeared in court after an employee lost parts of three fingers when his hand became trapped in a forklift truck.

PRF Engineering, which manufactures shelters for bikes and supermarket trolleys, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at its factory in Skelmersdale, which lies 10 miles from Wigan.

The local Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday how the 36-year-old worker from Kirkby, who has asked not to be named, had been helping to transport a three metre-wide metal sheet when he was injured.

He and a colleague stood on top of the sheet to stabilise it on the prongs of the forklift so it could be moved, but as the sheet was lowered the worker’s left hand became trapped.

He was taken to hospital by ambulance where his fingers were reattached but has only been able to regain partial use of his hand.

The court was told the company had failed to carry out a proper assessment of the risks faced by their workers. It should not have allowed employees to stand on top of the forks and should have found another way to transport the sheets of metal such as using a large metal basket.

PRF Engineering pleaded guilty to a breach of health and safety, resulting in a £6,000 fine and £5,164 in court costs to cover.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Imran Siddiqui said: “This incident resulted in an employee suffering permanent damage to his left hand. The company should simply not have allowed workers to stabilise sheets of metal by standing on top on them on forklift trucks. It would have been obvious to anyone witnessing this that it was unsafe.

There were 31 fatal injuries to workers in manufacturing between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012, higher than the five-year average of 29 deaths within the sector.