A worker at a chocolate factory lost her thumb after getting it trapped in an unguarded machine that she was cleaning by herself for the first time, a court heard.
Pecan Candy Deluxe (Europe) Ltd, of Moor Lane Trading Estate, Sherburn-in-Elmet, Leeds, was fined £7,000 with £627 costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.
It was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to guard the machine’s dangerous moving parts properly.
Worker was not fully trained
Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that Maria Pirie was cleaning a stirring machine when the accident at work happened in January 2013.
Ms Pirie, of Sherburn-in-Elmet, the court heard, was not fully trained and was cleaning the equipment on her own for the first time. Her left thumb was sliced off when it got trapped between the moving stirrer and the side of the vessel.
Following the accident the left-handed 46-year-old underwent surgery to reattach her thumb but the court heard it would never function as it did before. Magistrates were told she has trouble performing everyday tasks and has had to relearn how to write.
The HSE told the court that a simple interlocked guard would have prevented the accident. Following the incident the firm fitted such a guard to the machine.
The court heard that following a visit by an inspector in January 2012 – 12 months before the accident – the HSE had served the chocolate and fudge manufacturing firm with an Improvement Notice regarding guards on mixing machines.
Accident ‘easily preventable’
Following the court case, Rachel Brittain, an HSE inspector, said the accident could and should have been prevented.
She said Ms Pirie had suffered a painful, lasting injury as a result of the firm failing to provide the guarding which would have stopped workers getting too close to the stirring machine’s dangerous moving parts.
The inspector said the company had been served a notice on guarding before the accident but had not made the improvements required.
She said in the food and drink industry unguarded machines result in too many deaths and injuries, adding that workers should be supervised and well trained.
Contact Accident Advice Helpline on 0800 689 0500 or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile phone if you have been injured in an accident at work that wasn’t your fault.
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Date Published: January 9, 2015
Author: David Brown