Meat processor Chesterfield Poultry Ltd has been ordered to pay more than £300,000 for health and safety breaches, after an agency worker had their thumb severed.
Sheffield Magistrate’s Court heard how, on 24 April 2017, the worker was rehanging chickens on a hook coming from an overhead conveyor at Chesterfield’s site on the Coulman Road Industrial Estate when the incident occurred.
The worker attempted to reinsert a chicken’s foot into its shackle when her thumb got stuck and she was pulled around with the conveyor. Further around the line there was a fixed upright post attached to a drip tray and as she got to this point her thumb met the post and was traumatically severed.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there was no emergency stop for the conveyor accessible from the worker’s position when she became caught in it.
Chesterfield Poultry Ltd trading as Iqbal Poultry of Coulman Street, Thorne, Doncaster pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay £5,046.29 in costs.
‘Created a danger zone’
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Eddy Tarn said: “The moving shackles passing the fixed pole – that supported the drip tray – created the danger zone that the worker was drawn into.
“Companies must ensure that measures are in place to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery and provide a means to stop machinery should an emergency happen.”
Accidents involving workers’ hands getting caught in fast-moving machinery have regularly cost food and drink manufacturers more than £100,000 in fines and costs after prosecution.
This month also saw yogurt manufacturer T M Telford Dairy Ltd ordered to pay more than £600,000 for health and safety failings, after two employees suffered serious injuries following the release of an acidic cleaning solution.
On 1 January 2016, the workers were exposed to a 1% nitric acid cleaning solution that had a temperature of 65°C when working on a faulty valve on a clean-in-place system at the company site in Donnington Wood, Telford.
Injured while trying to escape
A valve blew off under pressure and the hot acidic cleaning fluid surged out, hitting the roof overhead and spraying on to the employees. While trying to escape from the acidic cleaning fluid, one of the engineers fell from a hooped ladder and sustained a head injury.
An investigation by the HSE found the company failed to ensure the safety of its employees and that it had not formally trained the two engineers in lock-off and isolation procedures, use of permits to work and safe removal of valves. There was no assessment of the risks in place for the safe removal of valves.
T M Telford Dairy Ltd of Donnington Wood, Telford pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £600,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,379.45.
Meanwhile, last month, Kerry Ingredients Ltd was ordered to pay more than £180,000, after health and safety failings at its Gainsborough factory led to a worker suffering partial amputation of his fingers.