The firm, Berkshire Foods, was fined £3,300 and ordered to pay £2,400 in costs following the incident at its Gosport factory in Hampshire.
An investigation by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the employee was operating a cutting machine, used to produce one of the company’s crisp products. While she was feeding a product into the machine her left hand became trapped between two rollers.
The worker sustained serious crush and skin damage to all four fingers on her left hand and underwent an operation, received stitches to her fingers and was in hospital for a week. She still has nerve damage in her hand and has not been able to return to work since the incident.
“Incidents involving running parts are a very common issue within the food and drink manufacturing industry,” an HSE spokesperson told BakeryAndSnacks.com. “In the food and drink industries machinery and plant cause over 30 per cent of fatal injuries, over ten per cent of major injuries (eg requiring hospitalisation) and over seven per cent of all injuries (ie major injuries and over-three-day absence injuries).”
After the incident, an HSE inspector examined the machine and served a Prohibition Notice preventing further use until it had adequate protection over the rollers. An Improvement Notice was also served for the company to carry out a suitable assessment of the hazards of the cutting machine.
The HSE prosecuted Berkshire Foods for breaching health and safety regulations.
At Fareham Magistrates’ Court on 29 October 2010, Berkshire Foods pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1)(a) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Regulation 3(1)(a) of The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
No guard in place
Speaking after the hearing, the investigating inspector at HSE, Craig Varian, said:
“This was an entirely preventable incident that left a young lady severely injured. Had Berkshire Foods Ltd installed an inexpensive and easily made guard, then this incident could have easily been avoided.
“Unfortunately, this is another reminder to employers, that they have a duty to prevent access to the dangerous parts of machinery. Failure to do so can result in serious personal injury as happened in this case and will result in prosecution.”
An HSE spokesperson told BakeryAndSnacks.com today that the company has since complied with the Improvement and Prohibition Notices.