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Food firm's failure highlights machinery dangers

Date:
8 July 2013

A Hull bakery has been fined for safety breaches after a worker lost the tip of a finger while using a poorly-guarded machine.

The 22-year-old agency worker was clearing a blockage of dough when his finger came into contact with a moving part of the machine that rounds the mixture into balls.

The machine sliced off the top of his right middle finger and he later had to have the part between the tip and first joint amputated. The man, who does not wish to be named, was unable to work for three months, but has since returned to Livwell Ltd’s bakery in Main Street, Hull, as a permanent employee.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident on 24 May 2011 and prosecuted the company at Hull Magistrates today (8 July) for failing to prevent access by workers to dangerous moving parts of machinery.

The court was told that the dough machine had a gap between the bottom of a hinged guard and the top of the conveyor belt where the dough was discharged by the rounding mechanism. The man’s finger had gone into the gap as he attempted to clear a blockage.

HSE found that the company’s own risk assessment had identified that contact with moving machinery was a hazard. However, no additional guarding had been identified or provided.

Livwell Ltd, registered at City Road, London, EC1, was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay £18,318 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Dr Nicholas Tosney said:

"This incident was wholly avoidable. The hazards were identified but effective measures were not taken by the company to prevent access to all the dangerous parts of the machine.

"The simple addition of a tunnel guard to this machine – which the company has now installed – could have saved a young man having to suffer the amputation of part of his finger.

"All employers have a duty to ensure that machinery is guarded properly to ensure that their employees are not put at risk of injury."

For information on safe working in the food industry, visit www.hse.gov.uk/food

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. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: "Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken… to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or 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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