The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has prosecuted a metal components firm, after a young worker was seriously injured at its Lincoln factory.

Agency worker Zach Martin was working for Wyman-Gordon Ltd as a fettler when the accident occurred in October 2010. He was using a hand-held grinder that he had changed the grinding wheel on the previous day. During use the grinding wheel fractured, was thrown from the grinder smashing his visor and hitting him in the face.

Mr Martin sustained a fractured skull and severe facial injuries. He required a five-hour operation to remove a piece of bone that was touching his brain, and underwent extensive reconstructive treatment.

The HSE told Lincoln Magistrates’ Court that Mr Martin had not received the necessary training on how to change grinding wheels and was also working without adequate supervision. The firm had delayed sending him on the training as they hadn’t decided whether to keep him on at the factory. It was found that the grinding wheel used was more than likely defective but his lack of training meant that Mr Martin failed to identify this.

Wyman-Gordon Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The firm was fined £16,500 and ordered to pay £6,178 in costs.

Vital that workers who use hand-held grinders get appropriate training

HSE inspector Scott Wynne said: “It is vital that workers who use hand-held grinders get appropriate training in their safe use and in how to change the grinding wheels properly. Most importantly operators need to know how to identify defects.

“Had this worker undergone such training, he may have been able to identify the defective wheel prior to using it.

“This was a preventable incident. Wyman-Gordon Ltd paid insufficient heed to the safety of this worker. As a result, a young man was left with a horrific head injury. He was extremely lucky to escape with his life.”

Peter Magee, a solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors’ Serious Injuries Team said: “The failure to adequately train and supervise Mr Martin could have killed him and it also put the lives of his fellow workers at risk. Training isn’t an optional extra or a reward, it is essential to ensure workers have the knowledge and skills to carry out a task safely.”