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Bakery fined after worker loses finger tips in accident

By Mike Stones+

21-Feb-2014

A Lancashire bakery has been ordered to pay £6,000, after a pasty-making machine chopped off two finger tips of one of its workers.

An investigation by the Health and Safey Executive (HSE) revealed that part of a metal guard had been deliberately removed, allowing employees to add fillings to the machine while it was still operating.

Tayyabah Bakery Ltd was prosecuted at Reedley Magistrates’ Court in Burnley, after the 35-year-old man from Blackburn was injured while feeding a cheese and onion mixture into the top of the machine on September 7 2012.

Struck by the pasty-making machine’s pistons

The court heard the worker – who asked not to be named – suffered injuries to his right hand when it was struck by the pasty-making machine’s pistons. The man was off work for nearly a year and the pain in his fingers prevented him returning to manual work at the bakery in the Gannow Lane, Burnley.

While the pasty-making machine had been fitted with a guard when it was bought five years before the accident, part of that guard had been cut away. This created a 12cm by 30cm gap, which allowed fillings to be added without the lid of the machine being lifted and the power being cut.

David Myrtle, HSE inspector, said after the hearing: “The injuries suffered by the employee have had a significant impact on his life but his injuries could have been even worse. If the machine had been set up with larger pistons, as it was on some days, he could easily have lost all of his fingers.”

Over-rided an essential safety feature

Although the machine was safe to use when installed, its modification, to speed up production, had over-rided an essential safety feature. “The company exposed employees to an unacceptable and entirely avoidable level of risk,” said Myrtle.

“It is vital manufacturing companies put the health and safety of their staff before profits, otherwise incidents like this will continue to happen in the future.”

Tayyabah Bakery Ltd was fined £1,000 and told to pay £5,002 in prosecution costs. The firm  pleaded guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 by failing to prevent access to dangerous machine parts.

HSE information on safe working practices in food and drink manufacturing is available here

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