Following an accident involving one of its workers, leading food manufacturer, United Biscuits (UK) Limited, was prosecuted in 2010 by the Health & Safety Executive and fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £2,889 in costs after pleading guilty to breach section 2(1) of the Heath & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
After trying to clear a blockage in an industrial-sized mixing machine, which is used to combine ingredients for flapjacks, the employee's fingers were severed as the blades inside the machine were still rotating even though the machine had been switched off.
Speaking after the hearing at Halifax Magistrates' Court, Inspector Rachel Brittain said the incident was “absolutely unacceptable” and warned that employers had a duty of care to ensure their staff’s safety, adding “Preventing access to moving parts and fitting guards is an elementary and essential precautionary measure and inexpensive,”.
The accidents involving workers who attempt to manually repair or clear blockages from machines are relatively common in the UK, yet are so easily avoidable. Although in many cases, workers access dangerous machinery components that have not been properly isolated from the power source, in this particular case, it would appear that effective health and safety procedures were not in place.
Around 5,000 people in the food and drink manufacturing industries are hurt each year while at work, with around 16 per cent being major injuries leading to hospitalisation.
Julie Balch, director of Career Steps Ltd, said "the health & safety of my employees has always been of paramount importance to me. Having worked in the food & drink industry for many years, I know all too well how easy this type of accident can occur; however, as a health & safety trainer, I know how easy it is to put suitable health & safety procedues into place to prevent such accidents."
The CIEH Level 4 Health & Safety Award enables employers and managers to develop the procedures required and to manage the health & safety of their organisation. For more information on how Career Steps can help your organisation, contact James on 0870 0660 328.