Baker and brewer told to pay £43k for finger injuries

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Finger Health and safety executive

A bakery firm and a brewery were ordered to pay more than £43,000 after workers suffered finger injuries in two separate accidents
A bakery firm and a brewery were ordered to pay more than £43,000 after workers suffered finger injuries in two separate accidents
A Hull bakery and a west country brewer have been ordered to pay a total of more than £43,000 after two separate accidents in which their workers suffered finger injuries.

The Hull bakery Livwell was ordered to pay £27,318 after a worker lost the tip of a finger while using a poorly-guarded machine on May 24 2011.

The 22-year-old agency worker was clearing a dough blockage when the machine that rounded the mixture into balls sliced off the top of his right middle finger. The man, who asked not to be named, later had to have the part between the tip and first joint amputated.

Unable to work for three months, he later returned to the bakery in Main Street, Hull as a permanent employee.

Hull magistrates heard that the dough machine had a gap between the bottom of a hinged guard and the top of the conveyor belt, where the dough was discharged by the rounding mechanism. The accident happened when the man placed his finger into the gap in a bid to clear the blockage.

Although the company's own risk assessment had identified that contact with moving machinery was a hazard, no additional guarding had been identified or provided, according to an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

‘Wholly avoidable’

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Dr Nicholas Tosney said: “This incident was wholly avoidable. The hazards were identified but effective measures were not taken by the company to prevent access to all the dangerous parts of the machine.

“The simple addition of a tunnel guard to this machine ​– which the company has now installed ​– could have saved a young man having to suffer the amputation of part of his finger.”

Livwell was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay £18,318 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Meanwhile, in a separate incident, the Hall and Woodhouse brewery was ordered to pay £16,000 after one of its workers lost two fingers in unguarded machinery.

The 32 year-old worker, who asked for his name to be withheld, was trying to clear a blockage in a grain dust extractor at the firm’s Blandford brewery when the accident happened on August 27 2012.

Middle and index fingers severed

His middle and index fingers of his right hand were severed after they contacted a rotary valve, when he reached into the chute of the extractor to dislodge a build-up.

Bournemouth Magistrates' Court were told that the company had re-located the grain dust extractor from its old brewhouse, where it had been outside the building. Workers had been asked to empty the extractor when it became full.

A HSE investigation revealed Hall and Woodhouse had failed to identify the risks associated with the grain dust extractor in its new location. An alternative system should have been provided to prevent access by workers to dangerous moving parts, it said.

HSE inspector Fiona Coffey said after the hearing: “This was an incident that could have easily been prevented by carrying out a suitable assessment of the risks presented by the new location of the extractor. This would have identified the need for guarding to prevent access to the dangerous rotary valve within the chute.”

The company should also have provided employees with information and instruction on how to clear blockages within the extractor, she added.

Hall and Woodhouse Ltd was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

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