A 26-year-old electrician lost two of his fingertips when he slipped on an icy floor at a food factory and grabbed the chain of a moving conveyor to steady himself, a court heard.
Leeds-based Country Style Foods Ltd was fined £8,500 with £794 costs after admitting it breached the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Newcastle Magistrates’ Court heard the man slipped as he cleared up after finishing a job on a freezer at the firm’s baguette making plant in the city last August.
He had instinctively thrown out his right hand when he slipped but it came into contact with the conveyor’s drive chain. Two fingertips were severed while a third finger was injured, forcing the man to be off work for a month, the court heard.
‘Accident was preventable’
Magistrates heard that a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation had found that the machine’s safety guard had been removed, meaning that people working near it were not protected from its moving parts.
It had also established that a problem with the freezer doors had resulted in a build-up of ice which had not been removed from the floor.
Following the court case HSE inspector Shuna Rank said the accident at work would not have happened had the ice been removed and steps taken to ensure the machinery guards were in place.
The inspector added that more than a third (37%) of all serious accidents in the food and drink industry were caused by slips, trips and falls.
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.”