A Dorset contractor has been fined for safety failings after a lorry driver suffered a serious hand injury while using unsafe wheel cleaning equipment on a construction site.

The driver lost his index finger, half of his middle finger and severed the end of his ring finger on his right hand in the incident at a golf driving range undergoing renovation close to the A1 Barnet By-Pass on 22 July 2010.

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard that he was attempting to use a wheel spinner, which removes mud and debris from vehicles before they access public roads. However the equipment, operated by Poole-based contractor Woodland Environmental Ltd, was in poor working order and had been adapted. This forced drivers to adopt an unsafe way of using it.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that a rope was held taut to hold a brake lever in position, and that as the driver attempted to release this it caught and severed his fingers. The rope had been attached to the brake lever for several months and had no place on the equipment. The condition of the wheel spinner was the responsibility of Woodland Environmental, but their management systems for monitoring equipment and procedures proved inadequate.

Woodland Environmental were fined a total of £5,000 and ordered to pay £8,833 in costs after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations SI 1998/2306.