18th January 2023
Company Fined £858,000 after Serious Machinery Accident
A Kent-based food production company has recently been fined £858,000 after a 26-year- old employee had to have his right arm surgically removed following a machinery incident.
The employee was understood to be removing filling ingredients from a paddle mixer at the company’s factory site when his arm became entangled in the unguarded machinery.
Following the incident, The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) attended the site to commence an investigation. HSE discovered control measures to prevent contact with moving parts of machinery in this instance were ineffective, specifically, the guarding on the paddle mixer (which is used to make sausages rolls and other food products), was not routinely replaced after cleaning. This was due to the machines interlocking system having been defeated, which meant that the food mixer could still be operated – even though the front guard was not in place.
On the day of the incident, the employee was understood to be removing filling ingredients from the front of the unguarded machinery when his right hand and arm were both caught and subsequently drawn into to the machine.
The HSE concluded that the interlock system had been defeated from January 2019, but possible as early as 2018 when the food mixer was first installed. This failure meant all of the employees that worked with the machinery had been put at unnecessary risk when they operated it.
The company was subsequently prosecuted and appeared at Folkestone Magistrates Court on 21 December 2022 where they pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £858,000 with an additional £8,000 in costs.
After the case, the HSE inspector involved in the prosecution said:
‘Every year, a significant proportion of accidents, many of them serious and sometimes fatal, occur as a result of poorly guarded work equipment. To prevent and reduce the risk of serious or fatal injury adequate arrangements and systems of work are required.’
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