A Somerset precision engineering firm has been prosecuted after a teenage employee lost four fingers in an accident at work.

Eighteen year old Kyle Bishop was injured whilst working on a milling machine on the 1st March 2010.

Machinist Kyle was changing a part on the milling machine when he accidentally switched the machine on while the cutter was still in his hand. The machine was set in motion severing four of his fingers.

Kyle underwent 12 hours of surgery, but his fingers could not be re-attached.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuting told Yeovil Magistrates Court that the system for changing the cutters on milling machines was unsafe, there was insufficient guarding around the machine to protect the machinist and the start buttons were not covered in a way that would have prevented accidental activation.

Workplace accidents are often caused by unsafe equipment

Nigel Ashley a partner at the firm Ashley’s of Yeovil pleaded guilty to Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,376.40.

HSE Inspector Leo Diez said: “For a young man to lose four fingers in an incident like this at the start of his career is serious and severely affects his future employment prospects.

"If safe systems of work, sufficient guards on the machinery and adequate supervision had been in place, this would not have happened.

"Every year there is between 40 and 50 major injuries in England arising from milling, turning and drilling activities in manufacturing industries and these could be avoided if safe systems of work were put in place and proper risk assessments carried out."

Alastair Elliot, a serious injury solicitor from Thompsons said: “Workplace accidents are often caused by unsafe equipment and inadequate guarding of moving machine parts. Whenever there is an accident like this it’s to be hoped that employers that haven’t done so will take time to assess the safety of their work systems and equipment. Regrettably, far too many employers fail to do so and their victims are people like Kyle whose lives are changed forever by such reckless disregard for safety.”