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Food safety neglect leaves costly aftertaste for Kent firm

Date:
18 March 2014

A Kent-based international food manufacturer has been prosecuted for safety failings after a worker’s hand was trapped by a sealing machine.

Craig Brandie, a 24-year-old employee of Veetee Foods Ltd, from Maidstone, suffered a crushed finger when he and colleagues began to clean the machine after an oil leak.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive, which today (18 March) prosecuted Veetee Foods Ltd at Medway Magistrates’ Court after finding the machine’s safety guarding had been disabled.

The court was told the incident, on 22 March 2012, happened at the start of a nightshift at the plant in the Medway City Estate, Rochester, when production was halted because of an oil leak on a machine that sealed containers of cooked food.

Mr Brandie was cleaning a conveyor section of the machine when it began running and part of the mechanism clamped down on his left hand trapping it until colleagues were able to free him.

He suffered a crushed index finger, although he has since been able to return to work elsewhere.

HSE found the interlocked safety gate to the machine had been defeated, allowing workers to get too close to dangerous moving parts of machinery. HSE could not determine exactly how long it had not been functioning as suitable guard checks were not undertaken by the company.

Veetee Foods Ltd, of Invicta House, Sir Thomas Longley Road, Rochester, was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £3,023 after admitting a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Guy Widdowson said:

“If Veetee Foods Ltd had ensured machinery guards were in place and being used, their employee would not have been harmed. Indeed, it was more down to luck that such an event did not lead to a more serious injury.

“Far too many workers are injured because they have come into contact with dangerous machinery that should be properly guarded. It is critical that safety mechanisms are in place, fully functioning and regularly checked.”

For information on the safe use of equipment and machinery, visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/puwer.htm

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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