A TEENAGE apprentice who saw two of his fingers and the top of another sliced off by an unguarded cutting machine that he was not properly trained to use is back at work where the accident occurred.

Hereford Magistrates Court heard the apprentice's employer admit two breaches of health and safety regulations. Julian Morgan, who runs J M Joinery at Knockhill Farm, Callow, was ordered to pay £6,130.40 in fines and costs.

The court was told that Mr Morgan and 17-year-old apprentice Craig Walker were now working together again without any ill feeling between them.

Darren Allport, for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), told the court that Mr Walker lost his ring finger, middle finger and the top of his index finger when a piece of timber 'kicked back' as it went through a spindle moulder.

The 'kick back' drew Mr Walker's left hand on to the cutter. The machine should have had guards to stop that from happening, said Mr Allport. Mr Walker had not been adequately trained to use the machine.

Ken Young, for Mr Morgan, said his client was 'very sorry' for the accident and accepted that Mr Walker's training could have been better.

The machine involved now had guards on it and a full health and safety policy was in place at the workshop.

Mr Morgan, the court heard, had a clean safety record until the accident occurred in August last year.

Though Mr Walker was pursuing a compensation claim, he had gone back to J M Joinery with no animosity between himself and Mr Morgan, said Mr Young.

Mr Morgan was fined £2,250 for each offence and ordered to pay £1,630 in costs.

Speaking after the case, Mr Allport said that the HSE was pleased that the fines reflected the gravity of the injuries suffered by Mr Walker.

Mr Young, also speaking after the case, said that Mr Morgan was pleased Mr Walker was back at work and able to carry on with his apprenticeship.