Food processor fined after worker’s hand severed in ‘horrific’ accident

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Hse

A knife used to over-ride a guard on the tenderising machine
A knife used to over-ride a guard on the tenderising machine
A food processor has been ordered to pay ₤22,000 (€26,000) and condemned by safety authorities for failings that led to one worker losing his hand and another parts of several fingers in separate accidents.

Studleigh-Royd Ltd, acting as operating company for Cranswick Convenience Foods, in Barnsley, England, was fined ₤14,000 and ordered to pay ₤8,370 legal costs for lax guarding arrangements on two machines at the Valley Park Industrial Estate in Wombwell.

The first incident, in December 2009, resulted in a 32-year-old man having his left hand amputated after it became trapped in the rotating knives of an industrial meat tenderising machine.

Barnsley Magistrates' Court heard last week the tenderiser machine was poorly guarded, with workers able to access dangerous moving parts simply by using metal objects, like a knife, to override a guard interlocked by a magnetic sensor.

Bypassing the interlocked guard made it quicker and easier to feed meat into the machine, but in doing so operators put themselves at risk, said the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Horrific

The agency said this was the case when worker’s gloved hand was dragged into the machine and his arm became trapped between rotating knives. Engineers had to free him by dismantling the machine, but his left hand later had to be amputated. The safety body described the injury as “horrific”.

Three months later on 4 March 2010, a colleague severed the ends of two fingers on his right hand when they were caught between a sealing head while feeding plastic film into equipment designed to seal food into packaging. Inadequate guarding on the machine was also highlighted.

The health and safety watchdog said a suitable understanding of the requirements covering work equipment combined with a proper risk assessment would have flagged up the need for improved guarding.

The company, based at the Sutton Fields Industrial Estate in Hull, pleaded guilty to two separate breaches of regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

The HSE said both accidents “could and should have been avoided”.

"I hope today's prosecution serves to remind all involved in food manufacturing that machinery guarding is of paramount importance at all times, and that robust procedures for providing and maintaining effective guarding are necessary in order to identify and eradicate potential risk,”​ said agency inspector Alison Crank.

A spokesman for Studleigh-Royd told FoodProductionDaily.com the firm “regretted​” the injuries and that the health and safety of its employees was of paramount importance.

“Following the incidents there has been full co-operation with the Health & Safety Executive and further stringent Health and Safety measures have been adopted across site to prevent a further similar occurrence,”​ said the company.

Linpac prosecution

The ruling followed in the wake of legal action taken by the HSE against packaging giant Linpac, which saw the UK-based company fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,553 in costs after a worker at one of its plants had three fingers severed.

The 49-year-old man lost the top of three fingers on his right hand while trying to clear a jam in a machine at the St Helen site, England, on 13 March 2010. He had removed a discharge pipe to deal with the jam, when his hand came into contact with a 1.7-metre-long rotating screw, known as an auger.

A HSE investigation revealed workers had to deal with blockages in the pipe once or twice a shift.

"Unfortunately, the company became used to the machine being blocked, and did not realise the danger workers faced when they removed the pipe to clear jams,”​ said HSE inspector Chris Goddard. "It should have looked in more detail at how its employees were dealing with the blockages, so that action could have been taken to prevent someone being injured.”

FoodProductionDaily.com contacted Linpac but the company declined to comment on the matter.

Related topics: Food Safety

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