Belfast Telegraph

Firm fined £12,500 after teen lost top of finger

By Paul Higgins

A metal works company which admitted liability when a teenage apprentice lost part of his finger in an industrial accident has been fined £12,500.

Belfast Crown Court heard that 18-year-old Martin Kennedy was on work experience at Capitol Reinforcements (Ireland) Ltd as part of his welding apprenticeship when the accident happened on June 29 last year.

Prosecuting lawyer David Russell told the court that having received just 30 minutes' training and having watched another employee using the machine, Mr Kennedy was working at a metal bending machine when his left hand became trapped in a 'nip point', leaving doctors with no option but to amputate the top third of his index finger.

He said Mr Kennedy himself admitted he had suffered a "momentary lapse of concentration" when the accident happened.

But he added there was no guard unit on the nip point of the machine.

It was also noted on a health and safety site visit that a brick had been put on a safety pedal so that the machine ran constantly.

The defendant company was at fault, said the lawyer, because no health and safety risk assessment had been carried out and Mr Kennedy had been exposed to "an obvious hazard" after receiving inadequate training.

As a result of the accident, Capitol Reinforcement (Ireland) Ltd pleaded guilty to three breaches of the health and safety at work legislation.

However, a defence lawyer told the court that since the accident, "lessons have been learned" by the company which has now installed a full time health and safety officer and improved its training sessions.

Handing down the fine and giving the company three months to pay, Judge Tom Burgess said that, as is often the case, "the simplest of steps" would have avoided the accident. 0

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