It's the latest health and safety penalty to be meted out following fruit juice manufacturer AMC Freshly Squeezed Ltd's £16,000 fine after a worker lost three fingers in an accident involving a screw conveyor.
South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard that on three separate visits to Coldconnection Ltd’s Jarrow premises, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors found multiple food processing machines that had non-functional or defeated interlock safety devices.
Notices were served on each occasion, requiring the company to remedy the defects. However, on a fourth visit in August 2019, the same issues were found again.
The HSE prosecuted the firm due to the repeated contraventions relating to these safety devices and the failure to maintain improvements.
Coldconnection Ltd of Bladen Street Industrial Estate, Jarrow, Tyne And Wear pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11 (3)(c) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay £928 costs.
Commenting after the trial, HSE inspector Stephen Garner said: “While HSE would prefer to engage with businesses proactively through alternative enforcement tools, we can and will bring action through the courts where businesses are found to put their employees at unnecessary risk through repeated contraventions of health and safety law.”
While the screw conveyor was being cleaned, an employee noticed that no water or debris was exiting the drain as it normally would. In an attempt to remove the blockage, the worker inserted their hand through the drain hole resulting in the severing of two fingers below the second knuckle and one below the first.
Regulation 11 (3)(c) Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
All guards and protection devices provided under sub-paragraphs (a) or (b) of paragraph (2) shall be maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.