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£230,000 Fine for Worker's Hand Injury

by 5m Editor
27 October 2011, at 8:59am

UK - A major European food business producing raw and prepared chicken products has been fined a total of £230,000 after two incidents at its Suffolk factory, one of which led to an employee losing four fingers, part of his thumb and some of the palm of his right hand.

Night shift supervisor Shaun Alexander, aged 42, from Kesingland in Suffolk, was helping a member of his team to clean equipment at the 2 Sisters Food Group's plant at Flixton, near Bungay, in December 2009 when his hand was pulled into two rotating cogs and crushed. A safety guard had been removed from the machinery.

A month later, in January 2010, fork lift driver Malcolm Raven, 54, from Lowestoft, was left in charge of a pre-slaughter area for chickens. He entered an enclosure to clear a blockage in the system and his arm was trapped and broken. The company had fitted a by-pass device to over-ride a safety control that would have prevented this happening.

2 Sisters Food Group, based at West Bromwich in the West Midlands, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over both incidents. The company admitted a breach of Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for each incident and was fined a total of £230,000 with costs of £24,350.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Julie Jarvey said: "Both these incidents were wholly avoidable. Shaun Alexander was failed by the company's lack of proper training, inadequate assessment of risks, absence of safe working practices and effective measures stopping access to dangerous equipment.

"He will have to live with the consequences of someone else's mistakes for the rest of his life.

"Malcolm Raven's injuries could have been much more serious. Similar failings were shown up in his case, made worse by the fact that he hadn't been properly trained for a task that was outside his normal working duties.

"HSE will not hesitate to take companies, big or small, to court and seek tough penalties when it finds them taking a lax attitude to their workers' safety.

The company was fined £90,000 for the offence in December 2009 involving Shaun Alexander and £140,000 for the January 2010 involving Malcolm Raven.