A COMPANY has been fined nearly £18,000 after a worker suffered a serious foot injury at its production site near Andover.

Bedmax Limited, a company that produces and supplies wood shavings for use as horse bedding, was handed the fine after Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court heard it failed to protect an employee from dangerous parts of machinery.

Worker Philip Eyers was operating a tree shredder at the company's Longparish production site on October 26 last year when his foot slipped.

It became lodged in a gap exposing him to the wheels of the machine which conveyed the logs.

He suffered severe injuries to his toes, with his big toe cut back several times.

The other four were fractured, leading him to undergo reconstructive surgery.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that a panel that would have prevented access had been removed and not replaced where the employee was working.

Bedmax Limited, whose office is in Belford, Northumberland, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

The court heard on March 8 that the company was fined £17,293.60 and ordered to pay costs of £623.60.

Speaking after the judge passed sentence, HSE inspector Andrew Johnson, said: “Bedmax fell below the expected standard.

"The necessary panel that would have prevented the incident was missing, rendering the man vulnerable as soon as he took to his task.

"This was a fundamental and basic health and safety failing which should have been easily avoided.”

Bedmax managing director, Tim Smalley, said: "The situation involving Philip Eyres, occurred at our Patchington Plant near Andover in October 2015. 

"As soon as this isolated incident happened, a full investigation was carried out and we immediately replaced the missing panel on one of the processing machines.

“Though HSE inspector Andrew Johnson believed that Bedmax fell below the expected standard because the necessary panel that would have prevented the incident was missing, the Judge, Philip Gillibrand, accepted that we had responded swiftly to the incident, and re-examined, procedures promptly.

“He accepted that, had instructions about the platform where the incident took place been followed, the incident would not have occurred.

"The Judge added that Bedmax’s record on all safety issues had been exemplary, and that it had robust systems in place, which had been reinforced subsequently.

"As a company we take health and safety very seriously, and our dedicated compliance manager is continually reviewing and updating our policies and procedures. 

"We always work together with our staff, holding regular health and safety meetings, and all members of staff take part in health and safety safaris.”