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Worker’s floor slip led to loss of fingertips

Date:
16 June 2014

A Leeds-based company has been sentenced after a worker suffered serious injuries to his hand when it came into contact with the drive chain of a conveyor at a Newcastle factory.

The 26-year-old, of Longbenton, Newcastle, was clearing up after completing a job on a freezer at Country Style Foods Ltd when he slipped on the icy floor. He instinctively put out his right hand to steady himself but as he did so it struck the drive chain of a moving conveyor, taking the tips off two of his fingers down to the first joint, and injuring a third.

He was off work for four weeks but has since been able to return to work.

The employee was working as a contract electrician at Country Style’s premises in Benton Lane, where they make baguettes, when the incident happened on 30 August 2013.

Newcastle Magistrates’ Court was told today (16 June) that an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the safety guard had been removed from the machine some time previously, which meant that workers were not protected from dangerous moving parts.

The court heard that there had been an accumulation of ice on the floor due to a problem with the freezer doors. The ice had not been cleared so the floor was very slippery.

Country Style Foods Ltd, of Pontefract Lane, Leeds, was fined £8,500 and ordered to pay £794 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.   After the case, HSE Inspector Shuna Rank said:   “This worker’s injuries should not and need not have happened. This incident was easily preventable had Country Style Foods Ltd ensured safety guards were in place on the machinery. The company should also have taken steps to prevent the accumulation of ice on the freezer floor.

“Guards and safety systems are there for a reason, and companies have a legal duty of care to ensure they are properly fitted and working effectively at all times.

“Slips and trips are the biggest cause of major injuries in the food and drink industry with 37% of all major accidents in the industry being as a result of slips.”

For more information about safety in the food and drink manufacturing industry log onto the HSE website at: 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. Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”
  3. HSE news releases are available at press.hse.gov.uk

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