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Lost Finger
Teenage girl loses part of finger after only one hour of doing her Easter holiday job. [Other case studes]

A 17 year old girl had to have part of the third finger on her left hand (the wedding ring finger) amputated after her fingers were crushed in a pie making machine at the bakery where she worked.

"I regret I learnt my lesson the hard way. If in doubt always ask."

Teenage girl loses part of finger after only one hour of doing her Easter holiday job.The teenager had been employed for the duration of her Easter holiday. She had only been working for one hour before the accident happened. Her left hand was dragged into the machine after she had tried to remove a pie from the machine's rotating table.

She had touched a safety flap on a guard in front of the pastry press. But the machine was faulty and her hand was dragged through the flap so that the press came down on her fingers.

Magistrates heard a catalogue of faults in relation to the machine the girl used:

  1. The safety brake which should have stopped the machine was faulty. It had been reported as such two weeks earlier when an almost identical accident occurred - but it had not been repaired;
  2. The teenager had not received adequate training on the machine;
  3. Her supervisor was not aware that she was using the machine until the accident happened;
  4. There was no planned maintenance programme at the bakery prior to the accident.

Who was to blame?

The girl?
The girl was partly responsible as employees share responsibility for their own and others' health and safety. She should have asked for help when she had a problem.

The supervisor?
The supervisor was partly responsible as he didn't make sure that the girl was trained or supervised properly.

The employer?
The employer was partly responsible as they did not have policies or procedures in place to make sure staff were trained properly or that equipment was safe.

What happened next?

"The employer pleaded guilty for failing to ensure the safety of its employees. I fined the company £3,000".

"We've now reviewed our procedures so that all my Senior Managers are now trained in accident investigation; my employees now sign to say they understand new safety arrangements; all new employees wear green hats instead of white hats so they stand out".

"It serves the boss right. It's not the first time a report about faulty machinery has been ignored. Mind you I feel guilty too. I always take extra care with trainees now".

"I regret I learnt my lesson the hard way. If in doubt always ask".

Since the accident, the company have carried out a review of procedures and in addition:

  • senior management were trained in accident investigation;
  • employees had to sign to say that they understood new safety arrangements;
  • new employees are to wear green hats to distinguish them from other members of staff.

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