Company failed to undertake adequate risk assessment or provide qualified training… An egg company in Worcestershire has been fined after an employee had two fingers cut off while attempting to clean out a drain on a production line.
The accident victim had parts of both the index and middle finger of his right hand severed after his hand got caught in a heavy duty blade at the egg distribution plant in Bromsgrove on 26 August 2010.
The subsequent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation discovered that no adequate risk assessment had been carried out with regard to the dangers of cleaning in proximity to the blade. There was also a lack of control procedures relating to the supervision of working near the dangerous blade and it was apparent that employees had access to the dangerous moving parts of the blade even while it was running. Finally the HSE were also critical of training of staff for maintenance tasks near dangerous machinery as their investigation concluded that training at the plant was carried out by employees who didn’t have the necessary training qualifications to fully prepare the staff for their tasks, duties and responsibilities.
Redditch Magistrates’ Court heard that the egg company should have been very aware of the risks posed by dangerous machine parts after a similar incident occurred at their plant in 2008. The egg company had no option but to plead guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 which requires companies to fully prepare and protect staff working near dangerous equipment and also obliges employers to make dangerous parts secure.
Christopher Gregory, a HSE Inspector who investigated the case spoke after the hearing:
“This incident was entirely foreseeable and easily preventable. The risks of cleaning around the drain had not been adequately assessed or controlled so unfortunately, a much larger price has been paid, not least by their employee.
“This case shows the importance of learning from mistakes and ensuring that formal advice from the HSE is not ignored. Employers have a duty to act on their findings. If the egg company had taken prompt action after the previous incident, this could so easily have been avoided.”
The company was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,303.
“Health and Safety News” updates newsletter, click here. The new ‘Health and Safety News’ section on our web site is updated daily with new, up to the minute stories. The stories are also released via Twitter – why not follow us on Twitter? and receive new stories as and when they happen?