Chutney manufacturer fined £30k for hand injury

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

An adequate safety assessment could have prevented the accident: HSE
An adequate safety assessment could have prevented the accident: HSE

Related tags: Occupational safety and health, Injury

English Provender Company Ltd has been fined £15,000 after a worker injured his hand while clearing a sugar dispensing machine at the firm’s Berkshire factory.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed the firm failed to assess adequately the risks of operating and maintaining their sugar dispenser.

The worker – who asked to remain anonymous – suffered a broken and lacerated finger during the incident at the manufacturer’s Thatcham site.

Inserted his hand into the chute

Reading Magistrates’ Court heard the worker was using one of the sugar dispensers on the day of the incident. Finding the sugar was clumping in the chute, he inserted his left hand into the chute to assist the flow of sugar.

During this time, sugar flowed around his arm and onto scales below. When the scales reached a target weight of 25kg, the valve shut on his hand; fracturing and lacerating his first finger.

The injured employee needed two pins inserted into his damaged finger. The man can no longer straighten the finger, despite several physiotherapy sessions. He has since returned to work but with another company.

‘Should have carried out a proper assessment’

HSE inspector Leon Donovan said: “English Provender Company should have carried out a proper assessment of the risks involved in the operation and maintenance of their sugar dispensing machine.

HSE view

“This would have identified the issues that lead to this unfortunate accident, which could have been avoided if the company had fitted a simple inexpensive fixed guard to prevent access to a dangerous automatic sliding sluice valve.”

“This would have identified the issues that lead to this unfortunate accident, which could have been avoided if the company had fitted a simple inexpensive fixed guard to prevent access to a dangerous automatic sliding sluice valve.”

English Provender Company Limited of Cunard Building, Brunswick Street, Liverpool admitted breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

The firm – which makes chutneys, curds, condiments and salad dressings – was fined £15,000 for each breach with costs of £1,178. Read the firm's response in the box below.

English Provender Company's response

“English Provender Company takes the Health and Safety of all their employees very seriously and treats it with the highest priority. Although the company had carried out both training and risk assessments on the equipment, the possibility that an injury could occur was not adequately identified.

“Following the incident, where an injury was sustained to an employee’s finger, the company immediately put in place additional measures to prevent a reoccurrence and re-trained all staff.”  

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