A RECYCLING firm has been fined £13,000 after a worker lost his fingers while unblocking a piece of machinery.

The male employee had only been working at Wrapp Recycling Ltd for eight weeks when the incident occurred.

He suffered serious injuries to his hand, which included losing two fingers, while operating a baler — a crushing machine that compresses materials that can be recycled — on October 2, last year.

Directors of the company, Nicki and Robert Mercer, say they "deeply regret" what has happened and say that "all remedial measures have been taken."

The injured employee is still undergoing treatment, and has been unable to return to work.

An investigation was carried out by national workplace regulator, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the case was brought before Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court.

Wrapp Recycling Ltd, whose registered office address is in Bradford Street, Bolton, and who operate from a unit in Little Hulton, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. This states that it is “the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

The court heard how the employee had attempted to clear a blockage in the hopper — a large cone-shaped device — of the machine while it was switched on.

After removing the guard he leaned into the machine and moved a piece of plastic which had blocked the mechanism. The ram then activated, crushing his hand. He has had to have two of his fingers amputated.

A statement issued by the company reads: "Wrapp Recycling Ltd deeply regrets the circumstances of the incident; the safety of its employees is of the highest importance. At the time, the system of clearing a blockage in the baler was deficient, however since the company has co-operated fully with the Health & Safety Executive's investigation and all remedial measures have been taken to the Health & Safety Executive's satisfaction, to remove the risk of reoccurance."

The HSE investigation revealed that Wrapp Recycling had installed a removable guard because blockages in the machine occurred frequently. However, employees had not been informed about the dangers of accessing the hopper while the power was on.

HSE found that it was common practice to clear the machine by hand with the machine still running.

The investigation also found there was “no suitable risk assessment in place” which would have identified the necessary control measures needed, such as a fixed guard and a safe lock off.

HSE inspector Catherine Lyon, speaking after the hearing, said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and implementing a safe system of work.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

Wrapp Recycling Ltd has been fined £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,951.90.