The 22-year-old, who has requested to remain anonymous, required a metal plate in her arm after it became trapped in a potato blanching machine that had not been updated with the necessary safety requirements for more than 10 years.
The employee, from the Hitchen’s Foods site in Ince, Lancashire, dislocated her elbow and broke three bones in her arm after it became caught between a conveyor belt and rollers on June 28 last year. She was forced to take eight months off work as a result of her injuries and has now left the firm.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that staff at the factory had been operating the machine without a guard for “more than a decade”, and that the rollers were regularly cleaned while they were still spinning.
Helen Mansfield, the investigating inspector at the HSE, said: “A young worker has suffered a life-long injury that could easily have been prevented if Bakkavör had put more thought into the safety of its employees.
“Sadly the machine had been operated without a guard for more than ten years, making it almost inevitable that someone would be injured if they came into contact with the dangerous moving parts.”
As a result of the prosecution, and subsequent investigation, the company installed a simple mesh guard over the rollers, meaning they can now be cleaned without the risk of the workers’ arms being dragged in, Mansfield added.
Bakkavör pleaded guilty to the charge of failing to ensure the dangerous parts on the machine were guarded, brought by the HSE, and was fined £10,000 by Trafford Magistrate on Friday October 21. The firm was also ordered to pay £2,026 in prosecution costs.
A spokesman for Bakkavör said: “After the incident, a full and thorough investigation of our stringent health and safety processes was carried out and necessary corrective actions and improvements were immediately instigated to prevent anything similar from happening again.”
The firm also said that it took health and safety “extremely seriously” and offered its “sincere apologies” to the injured ex-employee.