Food giant Nestle has been fined £180,000 in a UK criminal court after it failed to implement basic safety measures that led to a worker’s death.
Father of three Nazar Hussain, 55, was killed inside a depalletiser at at Nestle’s Albion Mill plant in Halifax in December 2008.
Mr Hussain had entered the conveyer type machine after large sweet tins had caused a blockage.
His colleague came to investigate when the alarm was sounded, but found no-one inside after walking around the machine.
The colleague restarted the depalletiser, which immediately shuddered, stopped and triggered an alarm.
Mr Hussain's crouched body was discovered inside and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
An investigation by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found a safety key device used to halt the machine was available but Nestle had failed to ensure its employees were aware of its purpose and how to use it correctly.
As early as 2002, Nestle had received written advice about improving guarding on a palletiser but this advice was not applied to the machine operated by Mr Hussain.
Nestle UK pleaded guilty in Bradford Crown Court to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was fined £180,000 and ordered to pay £41,826.33 in costs.
Mr Hussain's daughter, Sameena, said in a victim impact statement to court: "Our lives have undergone a complete change, and for that we blame Nestle for not having the proper fail-safes in place to stop something like this occurring."
Nestle: deep regrets
Nestle UK told ConfectioneryNews.com in a statement: “Our first priority has always been the health and safety of our employees and we deeply regret this accident happened. We would like to take this opportunity to once again express our sympathy to Mr Hussain’s family.”
“Following this accident we have also conducted a full and thorough investigation of our health and safety processes. Correctiveaction and improvements have been instigated to prevent anything similar from happening again.”
HSE: inexcusable negligence
HSE Inspector Jackie Ferguson said: "This was a terrible tragedy that could have been so easily avoided. Nestle failed to ensure robust systems were in place to control safe entry into the depalletiser and prevent the machine being re-started whilst someone was in the danger zone.”
"A family has been left without a father and a provider due to Nestle's inexcusable negligence. If anything positive is to come out of this terrible incident it is that other firms take note.”