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February 22, 2010

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Machine’s guard had been disabled

A major food manufacturing company put workers at risk by allowing employees to operate an unguarded machine.

Bakkavör Foods Ltd, which operates three subsidiaries in the UK, appeared at Grantham Magistrates’ Court on 18 February and pleaded guilty to breaching reg. 11(3) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. It was fined £3000 and ordered to pay full costs of £2000.

Magistrates heard that the incident took place on 24 August 2008 at the Bakkavör Bourne Salads factory in Bourne, Lincolnshire. One of the firm’s employees crushed his hand while assisting colleagues in clearing a blockage in a cabbage washing line. The worker reached inside the screw conveyor, which is used to slice cabbages, to clear several cabbages that were blocking the machine.

The device had been fitted with a guard in place to prevent access to the conveyor, but this had been disabled. The machine had not been isolated and when the worker removed the blockage, the conveyor re-started and crushed his hand.

HSE inspector Jo Anderson said: “Bakkavör is a huge company, which employs 20,000 worldwide and 2500 in the UK alone. It is often assumed companies of this size adhere to health and safety policies at all times.

“In this instance, Bakkavör failed to efficiently maintain the protective guards in place to prevent employees accessing dangerous parts of the factory’s machinery.

“The employee suffered the injury while working a night shift and this unfortunate incident sends out a clear message on the importance of companies maintaining the same standard of care to employees on a night shift as on a day shift.”

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