Snack producer penalised over injury to operator's hand

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Meal Occupational safety and health United kingdom Hse

A UK based snack group has been fined a total of £15,000 following an injury to an employee last year while using a blender.

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Smith Weston, which employed the worker and Kolak Snack Foods Ltd, which owned the site, after the incident in April 2009, in which the cleaning hatch of the blender was open, exposing the rotating blade and resulting in the operator having three fingers and a thumb amputated.

Following the hearing, HSE Inspector, Saif Deen said: "This worker suffered horrific and lifelong injuries to his right hand, because these companies failed to properly protect him.”

The inspectorate, in its case against the firms, claimed that London-based Kolak Snack Foods, which produces products such as crisps and crackers, should have had safe systems of work at the site, and that employees should not be able to access dangerous parts of the blender.

The City of London Magistrates Court heard that the machine should have stopped automatically when the cleaning hatch was open, and that the blender was in a poor state of repair.

Furthermore, the HSE argued that the operators should have received suitable training and supervision.

Smith Weston Ltd was fined £7,500 after pleading guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, while Kolak Snack Foods Ltd was fined £7,500 after pleading guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the legislation.

Both companies were jointly ordered to pay costs of £3,365.

A comment was sought from Kolak Snack Foods in relation to current plant safety standards but this was not forthcoming in time for publication. However, a spokesperson for the HSE told that the manufacturer is now compliant with HSE legislation in this regard.

The penalty follows the fining earlier this month of another UK manufacturer, spice and cereals processor Arcadia Food Industries, £7,080 after an employee’s finger was severed in a spice mixing machine.

Meanwhile, in May this year, UK firm Magna Specialist Confectioners, was penalised to the tune of £75,000 for breaching equipment regulations after a worker suffered serious head injury when completing maintenance on machinery.

The incident occurred when the employee was attempting to clean up a refrigerant leak inside the doors of a machine at Magna's production site in Telford near Birmingham in February 2007.

And, earlier this year, another UK confectionery firm, Tangerine Confectionery, was fined £300,000 after it was deemed guilty following on from a worker fatality. One of its workers died after falling into a sweet making machine in February 2008.

The manufacturer stressed that it is committed to maintaining strict health and safety standards in its plants following the issuing of a verdict by the Crown Court in Bournemouth.

Related topics Regulation, policy & food safety

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