Published: 12:00, 09 June 2015
An Ashford business has been ordered to pay a hefty fine after a teen nearly lost the tips of his fingers in an incident while on work experience.
The 16-year-old was on a paid placement with the agriculture branch of Haynes Brothers Ltd, in Great Chart, when he leant on the cutter bar of a combine harvester.
He had been helping an engineer carry out an inspection of the massive machine when the incident took place in July 2013.
The engineer asked the young worker to disconnect the drive shaft at the rear of the unit so he could turn the auger – the rotating tool used to transfer the grain – to check the clearance.
As he moved forward to get a better view, the young worker leant on the cutter bar for balance and unaware he had, the engineer moved the auger, slicing two of his fingers.
Fortunately the finger tips were not completely severed and they could be reattached, but the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said the worker still suffers from difficulties with gripping and numbness.
HSE found Haynes Brothers Ltd, based in Maidstone, had not led a suitable risk assessment or given the lad adequate safety advice on where to stand while the work was being carried out.
On Tuesday, June 2, Canterbury Magistrates ordered the company to pay £18,000 and £4,698 costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety Act.
A spokesman for Haynes Brothers Ltd said: "Having been in business over 200 years, we have always had a very good record on health and safety and this accident has come as a shock.
"We take the employing of young people very seriously and over our history have nurtured quite a number of apprentices to senior management positions within the company during their career with us.
"Unfortunately, whilst we had assessed this particular individual’s maturity and experience with his father, provided him with general safety information for young persons and carried out an induction, there is no header guard for a combine harvester for servicing and he accidentally leant against it.
"With hindsight, it is clear we could have done more to make this young person specifically aware of the dangers of the Header of a Combine Harvester.
"This case has been a salutary lesson and we would like to reiterate again that we are very sorry that the young person had the accident but are pleased that the cuts to his fingers have made a good recovery."
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