Firms fined after veg packing accident

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Belt, Conveyor belt

"The HSE will not hesitate to prosecute those who break the law in this way," said inspector Paul Unwin.
"The HSE will not hesitate to prosecute those who break the law in this way," said inspector Paul Unwin.
Two Norfolk firms have been fined a total of £8,000 after a worker’s hand was crushed in a vegetable packing plant.

Richard Beane’s hand was crushed between two conveyor belts after he tried to clean the underside of a conveyor belt on a carrot processing line.

The accident happened at Watton Produce Company’s Attleborough vegetable packing plant on October 8 2010.

Severe injuries

The worker, employed as a cleaner for SGA House Services which was contracted by Watton Produce Company, suffered severe injuries to his hand and required extensive surgery and skin grafts. He was off work for nine months and has been left with only 45% use of his damaged hand.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Watton Produce Company failed to protect the safety of its employees and contracted staff by not preventing access to dangerous parts of machinery.

It also found that SGA House Services did not provide sufficient and suitable information, instruction, training and supervision to its employees, particularly in relation to the correct cleaning method of the moving belts on the underside of the conveyor.

HSE inspector Paul Unwin said: "Mr Beane suffered an awful injury to his left hand which left him unable to use it for months. This was debilitating and traumatic.

Put at risk

“A simple guard on the conveyor belt as well as basic instruction and training on how to clean the equipment without being put at risk would have protected his hand from being dragged into the machinery.

“Organisations have a duty to protect their own workforce as well as contracted staff working on their premises. The HSE will not hesitate to prosecute those who break the law in this way."

Watton Produce Company pleaded guilty at Norwich Magistrates' Court to breaching Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1988. It was fined £6,000 with costs of £7,402.

SGA House Services, of Downham Market pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at work Act 1974. It was fined £2,000 with costs of £2,467.

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