A food production company has been fined £858,000 after an employee had his arm amputated after becoming entangled in an industrial food mixer.
Lee Simpson was removing filling ingredients from a paddle mixer, from which the contents could be removed at the front, at David Wood Baking Limited’s premises in Sheerness, Kent when his right hand and arm were drawn in.
Lee, from Sheerness, who was 26 years old at the time, had to have his arm surgically removed.
He said he has now lost much of his independence. He said: “Life has changed so much since the accident and I am doing everything I can to improve, but it will never be the same.
“Since my accident I have become dependent on others, primarily my family and fiancée, to complete daily activities for me, such as cooking and domestic tasks such as doing the laundry.”
The incident happened on September 27, 2021 at the Mill House, Dorset Road, Sheerness, where David Wood Baking Limited makes sausage rolls, quiches and other food products.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the control measures in place to prevent contact with moving parts were ineffective as the guarding of the mixer was routinely not replaced after cleaning.
The ‘interlocking’ system was also defeated which meant the mixer would still operate without the front guard in place, putting employees, including Mr Simpson, at risk when operating it.
David Wood Baking Limited pleaded guilty to breaches under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, Regulation 11(1)(b) and was fined £858,000 and ordered to pay £8,000 costs at Folkestone Magistrates Court on December 21, 2022.
Guidance on working with bakery products can be found on the HSE web site.
HSE Inspector Joanne Williams said: “A wide variety of work equipment and machinery is used across food production.
“Every year, a significant proportion of accidents, many of them serious and sometimes fatal, occur as a result of poorly guarded work equipment. To prevent and reduce the risk of serious or fatal injury adequate arrangements and systems of work are required.
“In the food and drink industries machinery and plant causes over 30% of fatal injuries and over 10% of major injuries.
“In this case this was a wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the company to implement safe systems of work and a failure to identify the risks.
“Had the company ensured the interlocks were maintained and remained in working order, the machine could not have been used without the guard in place and this life changing injury could not have occurred.”
Provision and Use of Work Equipment (PUWER) 1998
Regulation 5 (1) Requires Employers to ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair. Regulation 5 (2) requires Employers to keep up to date any machinery maintenance log that is in place.
Equipment should be checked frequently to ensure that safety-related features are functioning correctly. A formal system of planned preventative or condition-based maintenance must be put in place where safety-critical parts could fail and cause the equipment, guards or other protection devices to fail and lead to immediate or hidden potential risks. Where defects are evident, use of machinery / equipment should cease immediately and the defect should be raised formally for urgent attention.
Regulation 11(1) requires employers to put in place effective control measures to prevent access by employees to dangerous parts of moving or rotating machinery. Alternatively an effective Safe System of Work must be in place to stop the movement of machinery or rotating parts, before any part of a person enters a danger zone.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
Regulation 3 (1) requireS employers to make a suitable assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees and take action where necessary and where reasonably practicable.
Regulation 6 and6 (a) places a duty on Employers to prepare a Risk Assessment and record in writing the significant findings of the risk assessment, where the Company employs five or more people.
A risk assessment will not only identify the hazards that exist but it will also highlight any necessary control measures that need to be put in place, including information instruction, training and supervision. A suitable and sufficient risk assessment will include much more and it must be shared with the employees completing the work. Sharing a risk assessment wiith those completing the work can result in additional hazards and other useful feedback that can improve the risk assessment further.
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