Lincoln Magistrates’ Court heard how the employee was crushed in the machine – sustaining two broken ribs – after its safety systems were over-ridden and the machine worked on while it was live. It should have been isolated before work on it began.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the task had been carried out by Bakkavor Fresh Cook employees in this fashion on a regular basis and that the company should have been aware.
No risk assessment
No risk assessment of the task had been completed and employees had not been provided with a safe system of work to carry it out.
The lack of a safe system of work for the task – and the company’s failure to monitor how the work was done – led employees to devise their own way of conducting the procedure which included over-riding the safety systems and using unsafe working practices.
Bakkavor Fresh Cook Ltd of Sluice Road, Holbeach St Marks Spalding pleaded guilty of one breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £130,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2607.10.
Commenting after the trial, HSE inspector Tim Nicholson said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers.
“If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to this incident, alongside good monitoring of the way the work was done, the injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”
Meanwhile, last month, Sports nutrition firm Applied Nutrition Ltd was fined £70,000 for health and safety failings, after a worker’s hand was severed while cleaning machinery.