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Crisp producer fined for safety failings at Newport factory

11 February 2013

Crisp manufacturer Sirhowy Valley Foods has been fined after an employee lost his thumb in an unguarded machine at its factory in Crumlin, Newport.

Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday (11 February) that Brian Griffiths, from Bargoed, was clearing a blockage from a potato sorting machine at the factory on 5 December 2011.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Mr Griffiths was wearing gloves when he tried to clear the blockage in the unguarded machine while it was running. His glove became caught in between the rollers, severing the right thumb.

The court was told the usual company procedure for clearing machine blockages was to use a long-handled pole. However, due to the need to clear such blockages quickly, this system of work was not always followed.

Sirhowy Valley Foods Ltd of Earlstrees Industrial Estate, Corby, Northants, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £6,914.

Speaking after the prosecution, HSE Inspector Stuart Charles, said:

"This incident could have been prevented if the machinery was properly guarded and a safe system for clearing blockages in the machine was in place. Sirhowy Valley Foods Ltd clearly failed to ensure the safety of its employees, with very painful consequences for Mr Griffiths.

"The law clearly states that employers should take practicable steps to protect employees from harm arising from their work. In the case of machinery, moving parts that could cause injury should be guarded or made safe so that people cannot come into contact with dangerous moving parts. Non-routine operations such as cleaning or maintenance are not exempt from this requirement."

For information on safe working with machinery, visit

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive 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. Section 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states that: "Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken (a) to 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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