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Kebab company sentenced after worker suffers horrific injury

Date:
3 October 2013

An Essex kebab manufacturer has been fined for serious safety failings after a worker suffered horrific injuries to his hand when it became trapped in unguarded machinery.

Ethem Torunoglu, 36, from London, was working for Kismet Kebabs Ltd in Latchingdon when the incident happened on 9 February 2012.

Chelmsford Crown Court was told today (3 October) that the worker was cleaning a derinding machine when he noticed a piece of meat or sinew caught in a part called the stripper comb. While the machine was running he tried to dislodge it with a pressure washer but when that failed he reached in. His hand was drawn into the machine between the stripper comb and the serrated roller above it.

Mr Torunoglu grabbed his hand and called for help. He couldn’t reach the stop button from where he was so the serrated roller continued to rotate over the back of his hand, grinding it away until a colleague came and turned off the machine.

He sustained significant injuries including losing the knuckles on his right hand, substantial damage to the tendons and veins and loss of flesh from his hand.

Mr Torunoglu was in hospital for 19 days and underwent three operations to rebuild his knuckles and tendons. He also had a large skin graft taken from his left thigh. He has since had a further two operations and is awaiting plastic surgery. He has been unable to return to work.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that despite the known risks of machine operators having their fingers or other body parts drawn into machinery, particularly in running trap points, there was no interlock or tunnel guard on the machine preventing employees reaching the stripper comb or stopping the machine operating when it was in its open position for cleaning.

Training in the use of the machine was inconsistent. Employees had not been made aware of the risks and dangers which could occur during cleaning operations and the methods they should use to ensure they were not exposed to those risks.

Kismet Kebabs Ltd, of Milton House, Maldon Road, Latchingdon, was fined £17,500 and ordered to pay costs of £7,500 after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to breaching regulations 9(1) and 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Julie Rayner, said:

"This incident was wholly avoidable. Ethem Torunoglu was failed by the company’s lack of proper training, inadequate assessment of risks, and lack of effective measures to stop access to dangerous parts of equipment.

"From Mr Torunoglu’s point of view his life has been destroyed. He is unable to go back to work. He is unable to use his hand and only has about 10 per cent range of movement in it. His whole life has been affected and he relies on his wife for many of the tasks of daily living.

"The risks of in-running trap points – where there is a gap sufficient for something such as fingers or other body parts to be drawn in – are well known in the food manufacturing industry and Kismet Kebabs Ltd should have put in place suitable measures to prevent this type of injury from occurring.

"Instead Mr Torunoglu has been left with a serious injury from which he will likely never completely recover."

For more information about safety in the food manufacturing industry visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/food/index.htm

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Regulation 9 (1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: "Every employer shall ensure that all persons who use work equipment have received adequate training for purposes of health and safety, including training in the methods which may be adopted when using the work equipment, any risks which such use may entail and precautions to be taken."
  3. Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken to (a) prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or (b) to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone.

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