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A food company has been fined after an agency worker had the tips of two fingers severed whilst cleaning machinery, reports foodmanufacture.co.uk. The unnamed agency worker was working at Solway Foods Ltd Avana Bakeries in Newport when the accident happened in September 2013.
The worker was cleaning cake mixture from a pipe by hand when her fingers got caught in part of the pump mechanism, severing the tips of her index and middle fingers of her right hand.
The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted Solway Foods at Newport Magistrates.
The court heard that a co-worker was cleaning out the pump and connected inlet and outlet pipes using a hose. The pump was still running to enable the residual mixture from the last product to be pumped out.
The injured worker had been cleaning up the water using a squeegee but when she noticed some cake mixture inside the inlet pipe, she put her hand in to remove it when her fingers touched the moving machinery.
Although the company had put bars over the inlet and outlet parts on most of the other machines in the factory, they had failed to do this on the pump involved in the incident.
Solway Foods was fined £2,400 and ordered to pay £4,373 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.
Joanne Carter, an HSE Inspector, commented after the hearing: “Solway Foods clearly failed to ensure the safety of its workers, with very painful consequences for this agency worker. It is particularly disappointing that the company in this case had recognised the risk but had failed to guard all of the pumps to the same standard.”
Companies using temporary or agency workers need to ensure that all new starts are given a full health and safety brief prior to starting work. Due to the short-term nature of temporary and agency work, it is essential for companies to ensure that workers are fully aware of potential hazards, particularly for work involving machinery.