The ruling follows a decision in March, when baked goods manufacturer Country Style Foods was fined £140,000 for health and safety failings, after a worker was impaled on a set of ‘airline-style’ steps.
Grimsby Crown Court heard that, on 16 October 2017, the 59-year-old Young’s Seafood worker was creating the mix for fish cakes at the company’s Humberstone Road factory in Grimsby when he was trapped in a mixing machine.
Attempting to clear the mix from the machine at the end of its run, the worker lifted an interlocked guard that should have stopped the machine from running. He put his hand into the machine without realising it was still running and the augur caught his hand and drew his arm in up to the elbow.
While the worker was able to free himself, his thumb and two of his fingers were severed and he suffered serious tendon damage. Doctors have been unable to reattach his fingers and he has not yet been able to return to work.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the machine continued to run when the safety guard was lifted and failed to respond when the emergency stop was pressed.
It concluded that the interlocking system was inadequate, and the company had failed to ensure that the machine was effectively maintained. This was exacerbated by poor communication between the shop floor and maintenance and an inadequate fault reporting system, according to the HSE.
Fine and costs
Young’s Seafood Ltd of Ross House, Wickham Road, Grimsby Lincolnshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £787,500 and ordered to pay £33,443.68 in costs.
Commenting on the hearing, HSE inspector Carol Downes said: “The life changing injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented and the risk should have been identified.
“Being proactive with preventative maintenance and good communication of faults can reduce the chance of harm.”