A sole trader from Warwickshire has been fined after an employee’s hand was severely damaged in a roller press.

Richard John Pullinger, who recycles cardboard in the village of Polesworth, was fined £13,000 and was ordered to pay £6,143 in costs after he pleaded guilty to a Contravention of Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. He admitted effective measures had not been taken to prevent access to the dangerous parts of the roller press.

Nuneaton Magistrates Court heard that 19-year-old employee, Wade Moore, had only been working for Mr Pullinger at Unit 5A Pooley Hall Farm Pooley Lane for three weeks.

He had his hand on top of cardboard as it was being drawn into the rollers of the press. There was no emergency stop button on the machine but another operator realised what had happened and put the machine quickly into reverse mode.

Wade lost a third of his fifth finger, part of his ring finger and thumb, had multiple fractures and lacerations of his hand. He needed a five hour operation and still requires physiotherapy treatment. He has also had a further operation on his thumb.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the machine was in a poor state of repair and was a quarter of a century old. There was no guard on the machine, and as result a prohibition notice was issued. A guard has since been placed on the roller press.

HSE Inspector Richenda Dixon said: “This life changing incident could have been avoided if the owner of the business had fitted a simple inexpensive guard to stop a young man’s hand becoming trapped and passing through this roller press.”

The family of Mr Moore said: “People do not realise the consequences this accident has had on this family – to put guards on a machine could have saved us a lot of heart ache. It was such an easy thing to do and the accident could have been easily avoided with just a piece of plastic to be put in place.”