Cargill told to pay £47k for severed fingers accident

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Occupational safety and health Finger Cargill

Cargill's action was 'simply unacceptable', said an HSE inspector
Cargill's action was 'simply unacceptable', said an HSE inspector
Multinational firm Cargill has been ordered to pay £47,484 after a worker lost three fingers at its factory at Trafford Park, near Manchester.

The 46-year-old  man from Boothstown in Salford was trying to clear a blockage in a wheat milling machine when the glove on his left hand was dragged in by a roller on 29 October 2010. The worker, who has asked not to be named, also lost part of his index finger and has required significant surgery.

An investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that a lockable plastic guard to prevent access to the rollers was rarely, if ever, used.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court in Sale heard that Cargill’s procedure for sampling flour required operators to put their hands under the rollers while they were still rotating. The machinery produces wheat products for bakeries and fish food.

Suffered injuries

The investigation also revealed that another employee had also suffered injuries in May 2009 when his right hand was drawn into the rollers on the machine at the same Trafford Park Road factory.

Although the man managed to pull his hand out of the machine, he lost three nails and small fragments of bone from his fingers.

The court was told that that despite the worker’s injury, Cargill continued to operate the machine without using the lockable plastic guard on the rollers. This was to allow staff to see inside. After, the accident  the firm fitted a large transparent sheet over the rollers with a small gap near the top where a scraper can be used to remove blockages.

HSE principal inspector Dave Shorrock said after the hearing: “Sadly, two employees have suffered needless injuries at Cargill because the company didn't do enough to ensure the health and safety of people working at its Trafford plant.

“It is extremely disappointing that the company only took action to make the wheat milling machine safe after the second incident, when an employee lost several fingers.”

‘Simply unacceptable’

Shorrock added: “It was simply unacceptable for the firm to decide not to use the plastic guard on the wheat milling machine without finding an alternative way of protecting workers. The company has since been able to install a transparent sheet over the rollers, which means the machine can now been used effectively and safely.”

Cargill pleaded guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Health and Safety at Workc Act 1974. The offences related to failing to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery and failing to ensure the safety of employees.

The firm, which employs 140,000 people in 65 countries around the world, was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £12,484.

Meanwhile, 27 workers lost their lives while working in the UK manufacturing industry in 2010/11, and nearly 4,000 suffered a major injury. HSE advice on how to prevent workplace injuries is available at​.

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