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Derby manufacturer fined after worker's finger crushed

14 August 2013

A machinery manufacturer has been sentenced after an Essex worker’s finger was badly crushed in an unguarded machine.

Benjamin Tracey, 32, of Braintree, was attempting to clear a blockage in a newly installed form, fill and seal machine at a food manufacturer’s in Halstead, Essex, when its heated jaws closed on his left index finger and a knife mechanism fired into his finger, badly crushing and slicing the bone and soft tissue.

The incident, on 8 June 2012, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the machine’s manufacturer and supplier, Line Equipment Ltd, for safety failings.

Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard today (14 August) that Mr Tracey had encountered problems with plastic bags sticking to the machine’s heated jaws. He put his arm in to attempt to pull the bags free and when this didn’t work he stopped the machine, which halted the cycle but did not completely deactivate the machine. As he reached through the heated jaws the incident occurred.

Mr Tracey suffered a fracture to his bone, crush injuries and major cuts to his finger. Subsequent surgery saved him from having to have the top of his finger amputated. Some healing has subsequently taken place.

An HSE investigation found the machine had not been fitted with a suitable guard to prevent access being gained to moving parts. The safety standard for the machine clearly identifies the risks from the heated jaws and requires any opening bigger than 12cm to be protected by a guard, restricting the reach distance to dangerous parts. In this case the openings on all four machines supplied by the company exceeded 30cm and none had been supplied with a guard fitted.

Line Equipment Ltd, of Cedar house, Ashbourne Road, Derby, was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £1,330.20 costs after pleading guilty to breaching regulation 7(2)(a) of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008.

After the case, HSE Inspector Paul Grover, said:

"This was a common, entirely foreseeable and preventable incident on this type of machine.

"The safety standards for these types of machines are widely understood and their importance in safeguarding what can otherwise be a hazardous form of machinery was well known to Line Equipment Ltd.

"Had the company met its duties, it would not have been possible for the employee to have accessed moving parts of machinery in this way and seriously injure himself as a result."

For more information and guidance about how to prevent injuries in the food manufacturing sector visit

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.
  2. Regulation 7(2)(a) of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 states: "Before machinery is placed on the market or put into service, the responsible person must ensure that the applicable essential health and safety requirements are satisfied in respect of it."

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