An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that inadequate guards had been installed on the fryer, according to a hearing at Hereford Magistrates’ Court on Monday (January 19).
The 35-year old worker, who asked not to be named, lost part of one finger when it became caught in the nip point of a moving chain and sprocket device, which was part of an automatic stirrer.
Severed below the first joint
Magistrates were told the man’s middle finger on the left hand was severed just below the first joint. The accident took place on November 7 2012, as the worker was cleaning part of the machine.
The man was unable to work for two months due to his injuries. While he has returned to work for the company, he still suffers an impaired ability to grip objects with this left hand.
A fixed guard was later fitted to the chain and sprocket, the court was told. But the accident would have been prevented had the guard been in place earlier.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Tariq Khan described the accident as “entirely preventable”. Khan added: “Tyrrells Potato Crisps Ltd failed to ensure that moving parts capable of causing injury and within hand reach were adequately guarded.
‘Enters a danger zone’
“Employers are required to take effective measures to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery, or stop their movement before any part of a person enters a danger zone.”
Tyrrells Potato Crisps Ltd, of Stretford Bridge, Leominster, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
A spokeswoman for Tyrrells told FoodManufacture.co.uk the firm had re-evaluated its health and safety measures as the result of the accident. “The company pleaded guilty in the case brought by the Health and Safety Executive at Hereford Magistrates Court to a charge of negligence which resulted in an employee losing the tip of his finger,” she said.
“Since the incident in November 2012 the company has invested considerably in amending the equipment design to ensure there are no further accidents. A financial settlement with the employee has been made and he remains a valued member of the workforce.”
HSE advice on managing the risks associated with machinery can be found here.