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UK – Firm fined after agency worker crushes fingers

11 March 2013

A Leeds-based company has been fined for safety failings after an agency worker had two fingers crushed by hydraulic rams in a sausage roll machine which had a broken guard. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the national regulator for workplace health and safety, prosecuted the food firm this month.

The accident happened in March 2012 when a 26 year-old worker was removing filling for pasties from a hopper on the machine at the Excellent Food Company. His fingers came into contact with dangerous moving parts, leaving two of his figures with no or only partial sensation.

The court was told on Friday 8 March that the agency worker had been employed at the company for only eight weeks before his injury. The firm was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £1,688 in full costs after pleading guilty to one offence under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Rachel Brittain, said: “A young man has suffered very painful injuries and permanent impairment in an incident that was wholly avoidable. Excellent Food Company should have ensured that there were effective measures in place to prevent access to dangerous moving parts of the machine.

“They had been warned about these risks before yet failed to meet acceptable standards. The risks to workers from contact with machinery are well known in the food and drink industry and account for ten per cent of major injury incidents in the sector.” HSE statistics show that there was one death and more than 800 major injuries in the food and drink manufacturing industries during 2010/2011. A further 4,000 less severe injuries were recorded.

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