A major European food business has been fined a total of £230,000. This Suffolk factory was fined after two incidents, one of which led to an employee losing four fingers, part of his thumb and some of the palm of his right hand.
The first accident occurred when a man’s hand was pulled into two rotating cogs and crushed. A safety guard had been removed from the machinery.
A month later, a fork lift driver 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.
Clearly both of these accidents were wholly avoidable and the HSE investigation identified a series of failures by the company including
- a lack of proper training
- inadequate risk assessment
- absence of safe working practices and effective measures stopping access to dangerous equipment.
The HSE has reiterated its position that it 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 first accident and £140,000 for the second (+ £24,000 in costs). The HSE sends a clear message that failure to address health & safety is a costly mistake. Imagine the cost of the next fine if this company had another serious preventable accident!
We recommend that you think about what protection your health & safety systems would provide if an accident was to occur in your workplace.
Don`t wait until it goes wrong. Take this as a warning. Take positive action. It’s better to be proactive than wait for your day in court.