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Baker found in breach of regulation over worker injury

By Staff Reporter , 14-Apr-2010
Last updated on 15-Apr-2010 at 11:22 GMT

UK speciality bread manufacturer Country Style Foods has received a fine and was also ordered to pay costs after a court found that it failed to protect a worker and ruled that the firm has been in breach of equipment regulations during an incident at a Leeds site last year.

The case against the company was brought by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Leeds Magistrates Court heard that an employee at one of Country Style Food’s production sites was removing finished bagels from the machine when he spotted a build-up of dough on a roller.

He used a scraper to remove the dough, but a lack of guarding allowed his hand and wrist to be dragged into the machine and become trapped between the roller and a moving belt.

The court also heard the employee's injuries also included severe friction burns caused by the moving belt, which along with the broken wrist kept him off work for several weeks.

Though the injured man was experienced, and familiar with the type of machine he was using, the HSE investigation found that the machine itself was new to the plant and no formal training or written instructions had been completed governing its safe use.

The investigation also showed that the issue of insufficient guarding had already been raised by a hygiene supervisor, but no action was taken before the machine was put into use, said the agency.

Country Style Foods, which produces goods for supermarkets, bakers and foodservice customers, pleaded guilty to a breach of regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

The regulation states that every employer shall ensure that measures are taken which are effective to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or any rotating stock bar; or will stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone.

The company was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £4,570 in costs.

A comment from the manufacturer in relation to the court findings was sought but was not forthcoming in time for publication.

HSE inspector Angus Robbins said the onus is on employers like Country Style Foods to manage and control risks at all times. There were clear failings on this occasion, he added.

He told this publication that following the incident, Country Style Foods responded immediately to fit a high standard of fixed and interlocked guarding to the bagel forming machine.

"The company has also implemented a number of improvements to its safety management systems to ensure potential issues of this kind can be immediately identified and remedied without putting employees at risk," he added.

Robbins stressed that the hazards associated with moving rollers and belts are well understood within the food manufacturing sector, and that there are established standards and protocols that must be followed in relation to guarding and clearing blockages.

The main causes of injury in bakery manufacture, according to the HSE, relate to manual handling and lifting - especially lifting heavy and awkward loads and pushing wheeled racks, slips and trips on wet or contaminated floors, falls from heights such as ladders, stairs, work platforms, plant and vehicles, injuries associated with working on some equipment such as conveyors, wrapping machinery, pie and tart machines, dough brakes, moulders, mixers, roll plant, as well as pinning rolls/belts.

The agency cites the key occupational ill health risks in terms of the bakery sector as being musculoskeletal injury from manual handling of sacks, bags and product, work-related upper limb disorders (WRULDs) from repetitive work including tin loading, lidding, cake decorating and packing operations.

It also claims there are risks of noise induced hearing loss from depanning, bread slicing or dough mixing operations as well as potential respiratory irritation for bakery workers' exposure to flour dust.

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