Heinz fined for finger loss at UK factory

By Helen Glaberson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: H. j. heinz company

Heinz fined for finger loss at UK factory
Heinz has been fined £20,000 after a worker lost a finger whilst operating industrial machinery at the company’s UK-based baked bean factory.

HJ Heinz Company Ltd was also ordered to pay £4,496.50 in costs following a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The body said the hazard that led to the accident at Heinz's Kitt Green facility in Wigan (pictured) was well known, and urged companies to ensure their employees were following the latest safety practices.

Emery cloth

The incident occurred when the employee was making a new metal part for a baked bean packaging machine in April 2008, heard Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court in England.

The worker was using an emery cloth to polish the component on a metal-working machine while it was rotating, when his gloved hand was pulled in.

In addition to losing his index finger, the 65-year-old employee suffered serious injuries to his left hand including severe nerve damage to two other fingers.

The court was told that Heinz should have identified safety measures for the work in advance, such as providing an alternative way to polish the metal component so that emery cloth did not need to be used.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Regulation 9(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, after failing to carry out a risk assessment for the work or to provide adequate training.

Heinz response

In a statement, Heinz said, “In the three years since this incident, we have implemented the learnings from our investigation as well as ensuring that across the entire business our safety policies continue to evolve.”

The company said it was very sorry for the accident involving the employee.

“Heinz has a genuine commitment to safety and we always seek to ensure that we meet and exceed the standards required by safety legislation,”​ said the firm.

Deborah Walker, the investigating inspector at HSE, said the worker had been employed by Heinz for more than twenty years, but was not given any refresher training on safe working practices in that time.

She said the company also failed to assess the risks of the work he was carrying out, and make sure suitable safety measures were in place.

According to the HSE, a total of 25 workers were killed and more than 4,000 suffered major injuries in the manufacturing industry in Great Britain last year.

Related topics: Food Safety, Ambient foods

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