Foil Wrapping machine injures woman’s hand in Thornton’s plant in Derbyshire… A worker fractured her finger after it became trapped in a wrapping machine she was cleaning at a plant of Thorntons chocolate manufacturer in Somercotes, Derbyshire on 17 November 2009.
The woman, 37, was working with a foil wrapping machine which wrapped the chocolates in foil and then sent them down a chute onto a tray. During a short break in production and with the machine still running the worker attempted to use a cloth to clean the inside of the chute which had become clogged with caramel. However the cloth got caught up in the rotating blades inside the wrapping machine that were used to grip the chocolates and her right hand was dragged into the machine. As a result she suffered a fracture of her middle finger and also badly cut her hand and had to wait 10 weeks before her injuries healed sufficiently for her to return to work.
The HSE investigation of the incident determined that although the machine did have guarding, it was not of the necessary standard to prevent injury. An audit of the other machinery at the plant found that safety modifications were necessary on a range of machines to protect workers adequately from moving parts.
Thorntons pleaded guilty to breaches of Regulation 11(1) 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 at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court and were fined £20,000 in addition to costs of £7,680.
HSE investigating officer Stuart Parry commented after the case:
“Thorntons should never have allowed the machinery guarding to fall below the legal safety standards. It was effectively asking its employees to work on machines that put them at risk of injury.
“It was entirely foreseeable that the inadequate guarding could lead to injury and even if Ms Yardley had not used a cloth, her hand could still have been drawn into the machine while cleaning it.
“If the company had carried out an adequate risk assessment of its machinery, its workers would not have been put at risk and in Ms Yardley’s case painfully injured.”