Southampton Magistrates’ Court was told the worker – superviser Andrew House, from Calmore – caught his arm in a conveyor belt at the firm’s chicken hatchery in Romsey on March 17 2014.
While cleaning the area, the man’s left hand was pulled into the ‘running nip’ of the conveyor belt. As he was unable to reach an emergency stop control, a colleague had to stop the conveyor running so he could be released.
Still requires physiotherapy
After the accident, the superviser spent seven days in hospital, required two operations and needed several months off work. While he has returned to work, the man has limited use of his hand and still requires physiotherapy to help increase his mobility.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that the dangerous nip of the belt was totally unguarded, resulting in a prosecution of Faccenda Foods for safety failings.
Magistrates heard that the Northamptonshire based business was prosecuted by HSE in 2001 as a result of an accident involving poorly-guarded machinery.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Kate Clark said: “Andrew House suffered an awful injury to his hand which left him unable to use it for months. It was debilitating and traumatic.
‘Suffered an awful injury’
“The fact is that it need not have happened at all. Faccenda Foods should have carried out a proper assessment of the risks involved in operating the machine. That would have identified the safeguards and controls and that were needed and the firm would have been able to put those measures in place.”
“Andrew House suffered an awful injury to his hand which left him unable to use it for months. It was debilitating and traumatic. The fact is that it need not have happened at all.”
The risk to workers of becoming trapped in moving machinery was well-known in the industry and should not be under-estimated, added Clark, Such incidents account for hundreds of injuries each year, and even deaths, she said.
“If the guards that Faccenda installed after Mr House’s injury had been there at the time, it is extremely unlikely he would have become trapped.”
Faccenda Foods, of Willow Road, Brackley, Northamptonshire, was fined a total of £7,000 and ordered to pay £2,909.25 in costs after admitting two breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and a single breach of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
The firm's md Andy Dawkins said the company immediately admitted responsibility and has given full co-operation to the HSE.
“In the incident, an operative, Andrew House, injured his hand in a piece of machinery. We are pleased to say that Andrew has made a full recovery and has returned to work,” Dawkins told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
“Faccenda Foods takes its responsibility for health and safety very seriously. We welcome the court’s judgement that the accident was low in culpability, risk and harm.
The court recognised Faccenda Foods’ overall safety record and acknowledged the equipment and systems already in place for managing health and safety. It also noted the commitment and actions undertaken by Faccenda Foods following the incident to ensure further improvements.”