Phoenix Brands Ltd, of Bilton, England was handed a £7,000 fine and told to pay legal costs of £4,000 in the wake of an incident last year that saw the hand of a 16-year-old worker pulled into a screw conveyor.
The West Midlands company pleaded guilty after a probe by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed safety breaches.
Unguarded screw conveyor
The accident, which occurred on 25 November 2011, happened as the part-time worker was clearing a blockage on a biscuit crumbing machine.
He reached too far into the hopper and his right hand was pulled into a screw conveyor, a machine which uses a rotating screw blade to break biscuits as they travel up a tube
The worker injured a number of fingers but his middle finger was so badly damaged it had to be amputated, said the HSE.
The subsequent investigation led to a prosecution against the firm after safety authorities found that both the hopper and the screw conveyor were unguarded – and that they had been since the machine was bought several years earlier.
The HSE was highly critical of Phoenix Brands and said the accident need never have happened.
"To be injured so seriously just a few weeks into his working life has been profoundly upsetting for this young man, , said HSE inspector David Evans, speaking after the hearing at Wolverhampton Magistrates’’ Court last week.
He added: “The incident was entirely avoidable. The risks of clearing blockages had not been properly identified. If they had been, workers would not have been able to access dangerous moving parts of machinery.
"The company has since fitted a guard. It is just a shame they did not do this before someone suffered life-changing injuries."
A Phoenix Brands spokesperson told FoodProductionDaily.com: “We regret the incident and we have since carried out a full health and safety assessment at our plant.”