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2014 work accident statisticsA Gateshead food packaging firm has appeared in court after a worker suffered severe hand injuries when it got stuck between a drive roller and feed belt.

The 30-year-old worker, who has asked not to be named, was working for Integrated Packaging Ltd as a trainee when the incident occurred in November 2013. He was working with a machine in the firm’s Team Valley factory, preparing a new run of cartons.

As he removed parts of the feed section in the machine, it left just the feed belts and drive roller in place. With the machine running, the man tried to swap two belts by using his hand to lift one over the other. However, as he did so, his finger got caught between the roller and the belt, slicing off the top of his right index finger.

The worker needed two operations on his hand following the incident and was off work for two months. Even now he struggles with doing a pinching movement between his finger and thumb.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation into the incident and last month (26th March) prosecuted the firm at Gateshead Magistrates’ Court for serious safety failings.

The court heard that the gap between the belt and the roller – called the nip point – was poorly guarded and the HSE also found that there was insufficient information, instruction, supervision and training.

Integrated Packaging Ltd was fined £10,000 and told to pay costs of £941.35 after it pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.