The worker – a contract electrician who asked to remain anonymous – was clearing up after working on a freezer at Country Style Foods Ltd’s premises in Benton Lane, Newcastle when he slipped on the icy factory floor.
When he put out his right hand to steady himself, it struck the drive chain of a moving conveyor, removing the tips off two of his fingers of his right hand down to the first joint, and injuring a third finger. The electrician was off work four weeks but has since returned to work.
Dangerous moving parts
Newcastle Magistrates’ Court heard an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had revealed the safety guard had been removed from the machine. This meant workers were not protected from dangerous moving parts at the firm’s baguette factory.
Magistrates were told ice had accumulated on the floor due to a problem with the freezer doors before the accident happened on August 30 2013. The floor was very slippery because the ice had not been removed.
Speaking after the prosecution HSE inspector Shuna Rank said: “This worker’s injuries should not and need not have happened. This incident was easily preventable had Country Style Foods Ltd ensured safety guards were in place on the machinery.
‘Guards and safety systems’
“Guards and safety systems are there for a reason. Companies have a legal duty of care to ensure they are properly fitted and working effectively at all times.”
The company should also have prevented the accumulation of ice on the freezer floor, said Rank. “Slips and trips are the biggest cause of major injuries in the food and drink industry with 37% of all major accidents in the industry being as a result of slips.”
Country Style Foods Ltd, of Pontefract Lane, Leeds, was fined £8,500 and ordered to pay £794 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
FoodManufacture.co.uk has requested a response from the in-store bakery and bake-off specialist firm.
More information from the HSE about accident prevention in the food and drink manufacturing sector is available here.