Lantmannen Unibake UK Ltd – the UK branch of a Swedish farming group – was prosecuted for safety failings, following the accident in which the worker was hurt while cleaning a machine at its pastry manufacturing site in Bedford.
The worker from Bedford – who wanted to remain anonymous – had been told to clean the machine at the bakery on Wallis Way, Eastcotts. The machine included a metal hood housing an industrial extractor fan.
Rotating fan blades
As the worker cleaned the inside of the hood, his left hand touched the rotating fan blades, causing serious injuries to his little finger and ring finger. The man was unable to work for four months before eventually returning to light duties. He is said to still experience pain in his arm and shoulder and it is unclear whether full dexterity will return.
During the prosecution – brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – Luton and South Bedfordshire Magistrates’ Court was told no power isolation procedure had been put in place to allow safe cleaning of the machine.
Also, the court heard the worker’s instructions had not been clear enough, leading him to think he was required to clean an area of the machine where an inspection hatch, which restricted access to the fan blades, had been removed.
Speaking after the court case, HSE inspector Andrew McGill said better training would have helped to prevent the accident, which took place on November 23 2012.
“The worker suffered a painful and needless injury that could easily have been avoided had there been proper safeguards and proper training in place,” said McGill.
“It is vital that staff working on production lines, whether to operate them, clean them or supervise their use, are properly trained, provided with accurate information and adequately supervised to ensure safe systems of work at all times. Lantmannen Unibake UK clearly failed in their duty of care to their staff.”
Lantmannen Unibake UK Ltd, registered in Bagshot, Surrey, was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £1,838 costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
HSE advice on working with machinery is available here.