Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on 9 October 2023 heard how Piotr Zielinski was working at the company’s site at Lowmoor Business Park, Kirby-in-Ashfield, Nottingham on 22 November 2019 when his arm was crushed.
Zielinski had been removing debris that was trapped in the hinges of an open access panel door at the base of a hopper machine – the door had been opened to allow the debris to drain from the auger.
Muscle and skin damage
However, the auger was still in operation and caught his arm, drawing it into the machine up to the elbow. Skin and muscle were torn from Zielinski’s right arm and his wrist was crushed, injuries that required surgery.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the access panel door was able to be opened freely while the auger was in motion and that there were no controls in place to prevent this from happening – it was not locked or interlocked and there was no safe isolation procedure for this weekly cleaning task.
Belwood Foods Ltd, of The Henley Building, Newtown Road, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £7,839.21 in costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Lee Greatorex said: “This injury was easily preventable. Employers have a responsibility to properly assess the risks from all aspects of their operations, including cleaning and maintenance, and implement effective control measures to minimise the risk from dangerous parts of machinery.
“HSE will not hesitate to take action against companies which do not do all that they should to keep people safe.”
Meanwhile, a Herefordshire-based retail and catering butcher has landed a £8k fine after a worker was ‘permanently disfigured’ when their hand was caught in a grinding machine.