The 36-year old worker Ethem Torunoglu severely damaged his hand in the accident, which took place at Kismet Kebabs in Latchingdon, near Chelmsford on February 9 2012.
Torunoglu was cleaning a derinding machine when he noticed meat or sinew caught in the grinder’s stripper comb, Chelmsford Crown Court was told.
The worker tried to dislodge the meat with a pressure washer, while the machine was running. When that failed, he reached into the machine and his hand became caught between the stripper comb and the serrated roller above it.
Trapped by the machine, Torunoglu could not reach the stop button. The serrated roller continued to rotate over the back of his hand, grinding it until a colleague turned off the machine.
He suffered serious injuries including: losing the knuckles on his right hand, severe damage to the tendons and veins and loss of flesh from his hand.
Unable to return to work
Hospitalised for 19 days, Torunoglu had three operations to rebuild his knuckles and tendons. A large skin graft was taken from his left thigh to help rebuild his hand. Two further operations have followed and plastic surgery is planned. He has been unable to return to work.
Despite the risks associated with such machinery, particularly in running trap points, no interlock or tunnel guard had been fitted to the grinder, revealed an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Such protection would have prevented employees reaching the stripper comb or stopped the machine operating when it was in its open position for cleaning.
The firm’s training in the use of the machine was inconsistent, said the HSE. Staff were unaware of the risks of cleaning equipment and how they should be minimised.
‘Lack of proper training’
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Julie Rayner said the accident was wholly avoidable. “Ethem Torunoglu was failed by the company's lack of proper training, inadequate assessment of risks, and lack of effective measures to stop access to dangerous parts of equpment.
“From Mr Torunoglu’s point of view, his life has been destroyed. He is unable to go back to work. He is unable to use his hand and only has about 10% range of movement in it. His whole life has been affected and he relies on his wife for many of the tasks of daily living.”
The risks of machinery trap points were well known and Kismet Kebabs should have put in place measures to prevent this type of injury, she added. “Instead, Mr Torunoglu has been left with a serious injury from which he will likely never completely recover.”
Kismet Kebabs was fined £17,500 and ordered to pay costs of £7,500. It pleaded guilty to breaching regulations 9(1) and 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.