Engineering firm RCP Macpress, of Horsehay, Shropshire, and SCA Recycling UK, of Aylesford, Kent, were each fined £15,000 plus costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

James Adams was one of two RCP Macpress engineers sent to repair a damaged shredder at SCA Recycling’s plant in Greenwich, London, in July 2004.

To access the damaged area, the pair used a hydraulic jack strong enough to lift 25 tonnes to open a panel weighing just 100kg, causing it to open suddenly and immediately shut again, trapping Mr Adams’ right ring finger and little finger.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that although the pair had filled in a risk assessment form before starting the job, they had only been taught how to fill in the form and not how to assess of the risks.

SCA had issued a permit-to-work document to RCP Macpress, but investigators said the firm had failed to ensure that employees who issued permits had been properly trained in how the system should operate.

HSE inspector Loraine Charles said: “This incident demonstrates the importance of ensuring that employees are properly trained to carry out risk assessments and to properly operate permit-to-work systems – not just how to fill in forms.”

She added: “A properly implemented permit-to-work system would have ensured that there was a detailed methodology for the work to be undertaken on the shredder, including how access was to be gained to the area that was damaged.”

Paul Godfrey, national sales manager for RCP, said the company has grown significantly and changed its working practices since the accident happened four years ago.

He told edie: “We were a far smaller company then, when we only employed five staff, and the requirements from the HSE at the time were different.

“That’s no reflection of what we do today in terms of health and safety. We are at the forefront now, both in terms of equipment and staff training.”

SCA Group, parent company of SCA Recycling UK, were unavailable for comment.

Kate Martin

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