Warburtons fined £1.9M for trapped arm

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Warburtons was fined £1.9M for safety failings
Warburtons was fined £1.9M for safety failings

Related tags Conveyor belt Fine Guard Health and safety executive

Warburtons has been fined £1.9M for safety failings, after a worker’s arm was trapped against a running conveyor belt – its second fine of more than £1M this year.

Nottingham Crown Court heard how on August 4 2015 an agency worker was cleaning parts of the bread line when his arm became trapped. The accident left him with friction burns that required skin grafts.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found CCTV footage showing the worker cleaning parts of the line at the time of the accident.

As he reached into the line he became trapped between two conveyors, resulting in part of the machine having to be dismantled to free him.

Localised guarding to prevent access

HSE inspectors said the machine could have been fitted with localised guarding to prevent access between the conveyors.

A spokesperson for Warburtons said: “The health and safety of all our people is our first priority and we are deeply saddened that on this occasion our procedures failed to protect Wayne. We have taken the necessary action across our bakeries to prevent this happening again."

Warburtons Ltd of Mushroom Farm Eastwood, Nottingham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £1.9M and ordered to pay costs of £21,459.71p.

Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Edward Walker said: “Warburtons failed to guard the machine sufficiently to prevent access to the running conveyors, which in this case could have prevented the injuries.

“Employers should ensure that all equipment used by agency and their own workers alike are sufficiently guarded and take appropriate measures if any deficiencies are found.”

‘Take appropriate measures’

Warburtons was also fined £2M in January​ after a worker sustained life changing injuries following a fall from a mixing machine.

Tougher sentencing guidelines for large turnover companies like Warburtons meant that health and safety fines in food manufacturing could soon reach more than £10M for a single offence,​ warned DWF partner Dominic Watkins in May.

Under the new rules, companies with turnovers of more than £50M could be fined up to £20M for corporate manslaughter, up to £10M for health and safety offences and up to £3M for breach of food safety regulations.

“While the overall number of firms being fined has not changed that much, what has changed is the size of those fines,”​ Watkins said. “We are seeing a seismic shift in the level of fines being handed down.”

Speaking in March, Pinsent lawyer Kizzy Augustin said: “There is a new normal for fines for non-fatal health and safety offences and it is far higher than was the case under the old regime.”

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