James Vann, 28, suffered fractured bones, two flattened knuckles and a puncture wound to the back of his right hand after the accident on March 13 2015.
Vann was called to clear a blockage in a machine that seals lids to Fray Bentos pies and puddings packaging, at Baxters’ Fochabers factory. While unblocking the machine, a colleague switched the machine on while carrying out checks.
An alarm that signals three seconds before the machine switches on had not been working for months prior to the accident, the Elgin Sheriff Court heard. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had served Baxters with an improvement notice 12 months prior to the incident.
Not been working for months
HSE launched an investigation following the accident.
“This was a foreseeable incident, and there were several measures which could have been put in place to prevent it,” an HSE spokeswoman told The Press and Journal.
“In March 2014, HSE served Baxters with an improvement notice, and had the firm implemented the requirements, we are of the opinion this incident would not have happened.”
The soup firm admitted failing to ensure the health and safety at work of Vann between September 1 2013 and March 13 2015.
It accepted that it hadn’t made an adequate assessment of the line’s risk to health and safety. It also accepted not providing the training or information necessary to ensure the safety its workers.
‘Welfare and safety is our number one priority’
Baxters group chief operating officer Ron David said: “The welfare and safety of our employees is our number one priority. We deeply regret the injury caused to Mr Vann who has returned to work having been supported by Baxters since the incident took place.”
“We fully accept today’s decision and have worked closely with HSE to make improvements to our existing processes and training procedures to ensure an incident like this does not happen again. Indeed there have been no further recorded incidents since the injury to Mr Vann in March 2015 and safety performance remains a key focus for the Baxters’ board.”
Meanwhile, Baxters was also fined £60,000 for another accident at its Fochabers site in October 2015. A worker had his lower left leg and right foot amputated after falling into a collecting hopper. Jodie Cormack had slipped when attempting to clear a blockage of potatoes in Baxters steam peeling department.
Baxters fine – at a glance
- £70,000 fine for serious health and safety failings
- Worker’s hand mutilated in packaging machine
- Alarm signalling machine start had been faulty for months