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13th March 2024

Engineering Firm Is Prosecuted After Double Amputation

Mechanic working on an engine

What’s Happened

An engineering firm based Perth has been recently fined £10,000 after an employee lost two of his fingers when carrying our maintenance works on a machine.

The employee was understood to have inadvertently placed his hand into the blades of an unguarded rotary fan used as a grain dryer. The fan was rotating at 1200 revolutions per minute when it came into contact with the worker’s hand.

This led to the employees little and ring fingers being amputated. He was off work for seven weeks following the incident.

HSE Investigation

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into this incident was undertaken following the incident.

HSE found that the company had failed to undertake a risk assessment of the maintenance activities that employees at the site were expected to undertake.  As a result, on the day of this incident, there was no risk assessment for the work to be done – nor was there any safe working procedure.


The HSE have provided detailed guidance on machinery safety which is freely available on their website. There is an entire page on the safety requirements when undertaking maintenance.

In relation to this maintenance incident, the guidance is clear in that plant and equipment must be made safe before maintenance starts:-

  • Ensure moving plant has stopped and isolate electrical and other power supplies.
  • Most maintenance should be carried out with the power off.
  • Lock off machines if there is a chance the power could be accidentally switched back on

In Court

The engineering company directors attended Perth Sheriff Court on 16th February 2024 where they pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 22 of The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £10,000.

Following the verdict, the HSE principal inspector involved in the case said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply following a safe working procedure which would have prevented access to dangerous moving parts.

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The competent person role does not have to be fulfilled internally within every company. You can, therefore, outsource the appointment to a contractor or consultancy with the necessary qualifications and experience.

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