An accident involving a dough mixer could have been avoided if appropriate safety procedures had been implemented, according to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
Consequently, Edinburgh food firm Jian’s Dumplings Ltd of Billston Glen Industrial Estate, Midlothian, was fined £1,000 after the 22 year-old man harmed in the incident seriously injured his fingers.
Joseph Burnett, 22, was working at the company’s former premises in Gracemount Business Pavilions, Captains Road, Edinburgh when the accident happened on June 23, 2010.
Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard on December 13 that Burnett had been employed as a factory assistant for almost four months and helped to sort ingredients, make Chinese dumplings to order and package products.
Industrial-sized dough mixer
On the day of the incident he was working on an industrial-sized dough mixer, into which ingredients and water are placed. Paddles then rotate to mix the ingredients into dough.
The shutter on top of the machine when in the closed position still left a gap of approximately eight centimetres. There was also no interlocking on the dough mixer machine which would have cut the power to the dangerous rotating parts when the metal shutter was lifted.
Burnett was concerned the dough was too wet and began to add extra flour into the mixer by hand. He suddenly felt his hand and arm being pulled into the drum of the machine, with his arm going in past the elbow of his right arm before he managed to pull himself free and alert others to what had happened.
He suffered two fractures in his fingers and ripped tendons in his index and middle fingers. He had to undergo surgery, required 30-40 stitches, his arm was in a plaster cast for eight weeks and he needed physiotherapy to help restore movement in his fingers. He still has limited movement in his index finger.
Following the incident, an HSE investigation found the company had failed to carry out a risk assessment for the operation.
The investigation also found the company had not provided a safe system of work or sufficient information, instruction, training and supervision in relation to the use of the dough mixer machine.
Jian's Dumplings pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
“Could have easily been avoided”
After sentencing, HSE inspector Katie Dunlop said: "This incident could have easily been avoided if a suitable risk assessment had been carried out.
"Such an assessment would have highlighted the danger posed by the dough mixer and an appropriate guard could have been added along with an emergency stop button, which was actually fitted following this incident.
"The markings and instructions on the dough mixer were all in Chinese, with no English translation, and there was no safe system of work or formalised training for employees.
"Had these measures been in place Mr Burnett could have avoided what was a very painful injury."