A GLOBAL chemical firm has been fined £12,000 for ignoring basic safety guidelines after a maintenance worker seriously injured his right hand at a Runcorn factory.

The 58-year-old man, who has asked not to be named, lost his ring finger and suffered damage to his middle and little finger after his gloved hand was pulled into machinery.

Ineos Enterprises Ltd, which has an annual turnover of €900 million, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an investigation into the incident at the company’s site at the Weston Point Salt Walks on South Road on September 21, 2010.

Runcorn Magistrates’ Court was told Ineos had failed to follow health and safety guidance which advises against wearing gloves when using metalworking lathes. Instead, it introduced a new policy on 1 May 2010 making wearing protective gloves mandatory for most workers on the site.

Several employees were reprimanded for not wearing gloves following the policy’s introduction, and the injured worker was reminded to wear his gloves by his line manager on the morning of the incident.

He was removing the rust off a hitch pin, used to connect a trailer to a vehicle, when his glove got caught in the rotating mechanism, dragging in his hand.

The HSE investigation found that Ineos had failed to assess whether its glove policy could create addition hazards or increased risks. Investigators also discovered that the metalworking machine and two pillar drills at the factory had not been fitted with safety guards.

Ineos Enterprises Ltd, which has sites in the UK, France, Germany and Thailand, admitted breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 when failing to ensure the safety of workers.

The company, of South Parade, Runcorn, was also ordered to pay £6,607 towards the cost of the prosecution in addition to the fine.

Speaking after the hearing, Mhairi Duffy, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:“A worker has lost one finger and badly damaged two others because Ineos didn’t think about the possible implications of its new glove policy.

“The company ordered its staff to wear protective gloves on the factory floor, even though some workers tried to explain that there were often specific reasons for not wearing them.

“New guidance was introduced nearly six years ago on not wearing gloves while using metalworking machines, but Ineos failed to keep up to date with the latest health and safety advice.”