The woman, who lives in Cwmbran and prefers to remain anonymous, was working at Solway Foods Ltd’s Avana Bakeries site in Rogerstone, Newport when the incident happened on September 19 2013. The business was at that time part of 2 Sisters Food Group, but has since changed hands.
The worker was cleaning cake mixture from a pipe by hand when her fingers got caught in part of the pump mechanism, severing the tips of her index and middle fingers of her right hand.
The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted Solway Foods at Newport Magistrates.
The court heard that a co-worker was cleaning out the pump and connected inlet and outlet pipes using a hose. The pump was still running to enable the residual mixture from the last product to be pumped out.
The injured worker had been cleaning up the water using a squeegee but when she noticed some cake mixture inside the inlet pipe, she put her hand in to remove it when her fingers touched the moving machinery.
Although the company had put bars over the inlet and outlet parts on most of the other pumps in the factory, they had failed to do this on the pump involved in the incident.
The worker still suffers pain as a result of the incident and experiences difficulty carrying out daily tasks which involve gripping, such as brushing her hair or writing.
Solway Foods of Trinity Business Park, Wakefield, was fined £2,400 and ordered to pay £4,373 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.
‘Could be badly injured’
“Blockages of moving machinery are common occurrences in the food industry and employees will often try to remove them or try to clean them while a machine is moving,” said HSE inspector Joanne Carter after the hearing, which took place on August 15. “If access to dangerous parts is not prevented, they could be badly injured.
“Solway Foods clearly failed to ensure the safety of its workers, with very painful consequences for this agency worker. It is particularly disappointing that the company in this case had recognised the risk but had failed to guard all the pumps to the same standard.
“In the case of machinery, moving parts that could cause injury should be guarded or other safety mechanisms installed to cut the power to the machine so that people cannot come into contact with them. Non-routine operations such as cleaning or maintenance are not exempt from this requirement.”