Three workers at a fruit processing factory suffered personal injury after becoming trapped in unsafe machinery.
Two agency workers and an employee, who was a maintenance engineer, were all injured while working for fruit importer and distributor Winfresh (UK) Ltd at its processing plant in Essex.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was launched after a female worker’s hand was drawn into the drive shaft of a conveyor and she became trapped between rollers.
She sustained crush injuries and severe bruising to her hand and wrist and was off work for almost three weeks.
The HSE investigation revealed there had been two earlier incidents at the plant involving workers’ hands becoming entangled in machinery and the company was prosecuted for repeated safety failings.
The first worker lost of part of his finger and was off work for two to three months.
A maintenance engineer was injured when his forefinger became wrapped around a revolving drive shaft causing a fracture and tissue damage. He was off work for two to three months.
Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court was told how the production lines, which include a series of conveyors, are mainly operated by agency workers, the majority of whom do not have English as their first language.
HSE found that Winfresh UK Ltd had failed to carry out a sufficient risk assessment and although some guards were then installed around the drive chains, the drive belts were left unenclosed and accessible.
HSE added how the maintenance engineer lacked sufficient training and had been left to work without supervision and proper instruction on isolation and safe working procedures.
Winfresh (UK) Ltd, registered at Old Bond Street, London, was fined a total of £32,000 and ordered to pay £771.50 costs after pleading guilty to three offences; one breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and two breaches of the Provision and Use of Equipment Regulations 1998.
HSE Inspector Paul Grover, said: “The hazards arising from roller conveyors are well known and suitable guarding should have been in place, but Winfresh UK Ltd had failed to fully assess the risks involved in their use.”