An international food manufacturer has been fined £12,000 for safety failings after a worker’s hand was trapped by a sealing machine.
Craig Brandie, a 24-year-old employee of Veetee Foods Ltd, from Maidstone in Kent, suffered a crushed finger when he and colleagues began to clean the machine after an oil leak.
The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive, which prosecuted Veetee Foods Ltd at Medway Magistrates’ Court on 18th March after finding the machine’s safety guarding had been disabled.
The court was told the incident, on 22nd March 2012, happened at the start of a nightshift at the plant in the Medway City Estate, Rochester, when production was halted because of an oil leak on a machine that sealed containers of cooked food.
Mr Brandie was cleaning a conveyor section of the machine when it began running and part of the mechanism clamped down on his left hand trapping it until colleagues were able to free him.
He suffered a crushed index finger although he has since been able to return to work elsewhere.
HSE found the interlocked safety gate to the machine had been defeated, allowing workers to get too close to dangerous moving parts of machinery.
Veetee Foods Ltd, of Invicta House, Sir Thomas Longley Road, Rochester, was also ordered to pay £3,023 after admitting a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Guy Widdowson said: “If Veetee Foods Ltd had ensured machinery guards were in place and being used, their employee would not have been harmed.
“Indeed, it was more down to luck that such an event did not lead to a more serious injury.
“Far too many workers are injured because they have come into contact with dangerous machinery that should be properly guarded.
“It is critical that safety mechanisms are in place, fully functioning and regularly checked.”