Elgin Sheriff Court has fined a well known food manufacturer after being found guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 33(1) (a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £60,000.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation revealed significant health and safety failings. The HSE reported that in January 2014, a male short term contract worker was performing duties on the steam peeling line which prepares vegetables for soup production.
The HSE told the court that vegetable batches needed to be kept separate and in order to do so, operators used a ladder to access the conveyor belt and then used a squeegee to push the vegetables over the end of the conveyor into the auger.
The worker climbed onto the conveyor belt but his left foot slipped and was pulled into the auger. The employee was caught in the machine for an hour while a medical team attempted to free him. An air ambulance flew the worker for emergency treatment at an Inverness hospital.
Treatment included partial amputation of his right foot and below the leg amputation of his left leg. He now uses a prosthetic limb.
The HSE reported that the company failed to make an adequate risk assessment regarding the dangers of clearing the vegetables on this production line, maintain equipment and provide sufficient training and supervision in order to keep staff safe.
After the case was heard, Penny Falconer from the HSE said:
“This tragic incident was entirely avoidable. Augers are known to be the cause of serious accidents when limbs are drawn in.”
“[The company] should have been aware of the risks involved in clearing the conveyor and the precautions that needed to be taken to prevent access to the auger.”
“It is clear that supervisors and management had not considered how this task was being done.”
For further information on risk assessments click here.