A 59-year-old Cammell Laird worker from Ellesmere Port had his hand crushed and fractured in an accident at Cammell Laird shipyard.
The man was left unable to work for five months due to his serious injuries, which the Health and Safety Executive said could have been avoided if the Birkenhead ship builder and repairer had followed its own safety procedures.
Liverpool Magistrates Court heard on Monday (December 5) that the victim had been carrying out repair work on a lathe machine at the time of the incident in July last year.
He noticed that parts of it were dirty, so he wrapped an emery cloth around the lead screw and turned the lathe on in order to clean them.
But as the started to run, his right hand was pulled into the moving parts.
After being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive, Cammell Laird pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,683.
The court heard that Cammell Laird's risk assessment failed to identify the risks involved in the common practice of using an emery cloth on moving parts and failed to recognised the way in which its employees were working, with most machinists carrying out their own maintenance work rather than referring such tasks to the maintenance team.
A system of lock off – which would have prevented reconnection of the power to the machine – had been identified and was outlined in the written health and safety management system but had not been properly communicated to employees or implemented.
Speaking after the hearing, Health and Safety Executive inspector Karen Fearon said: “The defendant had developed a Health and Safety Management System (HSMS) but failed to ensure that the system had permeated all parts of the organisation.
"If the HSMS had been followed this accident may not have occurred.
"Maintenance was being carried out on machinery which was energised whilst someone was in the dangerous part of that machine.
"There was no lock off, poor control and poor management. Prior to maintenance the equipment was not shut down, isolated and residual energy released and secured with a means to prevent inadvertent reconnection (e.g. by locking off with a padlock) as it should have been.”