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Cheshire ice cream firm in court after employee loses finger

Date:
26 March 2015

An ice cream manufacturer has been fined for safety failings after an employee’s finger was cut off by a fruit feeder machine.

Tattenhall Dairy Products Ltd, which produces Cheshire Farm Ice Cream, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at Drumlan Hall Farm on 8 August 2013.

Chester Magistrates’ Court heard today (26 March) the 60-year-old employee, from Tattenhall, who does not want to be named, had been asked to clean the fruit feeder so it was ready for the next batch of ice cream.

She assumed the machine was switched off and tried to remove pieces of cookies at the back with her left index finger when it became caught by the rotating blades. Her finger was cut off to below the second knuckle.

The court was told employees had needed to clean the machine up to three times every day. They did this by removing the chute which fed in the fruit, but this meant dangerous moving parts became exposed.

The HSE investigation found employees had been told to switch off the machine when they cleaned it, but no other measures were put in place to make sure they were not put in danger. This meant there was a high risk of them being injured if they simply forgot to check, due to human error.

The company has since installed an interlocking device on the machine, which means power is automatically cut when the chute is removed.

Tattenhall Dairy Products Ltd, of Newton Lane in Tattenhall, was fined £7,500 and ordered to pay £11,287.22 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Provision and Use of Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Lorna Sherlock said:

“The fruit feeder needed to be cleaned several times every day so it was almost inevitable that an employee would forget to check it was switched off on one occasion.

“Tattenhall Dairy Products should have had suitable guarding or, as a minimum, a robust safe system of work in place to make sure no one was injured but there was none. A worker lost her index finger as a result.

“It would have been relatively easy to fit a device to the machine which automatically cut the power when the chute was removed. However, the company waited until after the incident before making this vital safety improvement.”

More information on improving health and safety in the manufacturing industry is available at www.hse.gov.uk/manufacturing.

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)(b) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: “Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken…which are effective to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone.”

3. Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states: “Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work.”

4. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk/.

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