Tesco fine acts as warning to bakers

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Occupational safety and health

Lax health and safety measures left UK supermarket giant Tesco with
a legal bill of £50,000 (€75,000) on Monday, after a member of
staff lost the top of a finger in a bakery machine.

The Tesco worker was injured last February after inserting his hand into a Mono dough divider machine in order to free some dough. The machine's safety guard was not in place.

The company was fined the maximum penalty of £25,000 (€37,500) for breach of health and safety regulations. It was ordered to pay a further £25,000 in costs.

The prosecution revealed how the training provided for work within the bakery department was office-based, and was "inadequately and ineffectively policed and enforced."

Furthermore, the company was accused of neglecting necessary checks and balances in order to identify inadequacies and implement restorative measures.

The court heard how such safety systems and precautions were undermined by their inability to operate effectively within the realities of the management's commercial demands- targets and deadlines.

The dough divider involved was a troublesome machine, having required the attention of engineers over 30 times in the 12-month period prior to the accident. Its safety guard was removed on a regular basis at the in-store bakery, as it prevented the machine's efficient functioning.

"Rather worryingly, all it took to remove the guard was for it to be shaken off. No tools were required,"​ heard the court.

Mono, a leading UK manufacturer of bakery equipment, told BakeryAndSnacks.com that on manufacture, the machine had been fitted with all necessary safety guards. The company was unable to comment on the machine's subsequent deterioration as it was not responsible for its maintenance at the time of the accident.

Tim Durell, food and safety manager at South Norfolk Council, the body responsible for health and safety inspections in the area, said, "an accident like this could have been avoided had a safe system been in place. While incidents like this are the exception rather than the rule, businesses have a duty to ensure that the pieces of equipment they have on site are well maintained and properly operating."

He added that the Tesco store in question is inspected annually, and had been inspected seven months before the accident. He refused to comment on the result of that inspection.

A Tesco spokesperson said: "As was recognised by the judge, we have strict health and safety procedures in place and training is provided to all staff. Unfortunately on this occasion our high standards were not met. Staff at the store have been reminded of the importance of following procedures."

Related topics: Ingredients

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