‘Obvious’ risk ignored by Hotel Chocolat
Hotel Chocolat, the Chocolate manufacturer, has been prosecuted after a worker suffered serious hand and arm injuries whilst cleaning a machine tank.
Piotr Podgorski, 35, from Bretton, in Peterborough, was working as a cell supervisor for the company on 16 August 2014 when he was asked to clean the tank of a chocolate enrobing machine so it could be reassembled for production.
Peterborough Magistrates’ Court was told that Mr Podgorski was emptying the tank when a blue cloth he was holding became entangled in the rotating stirrer mechanism. The cloth continued to wrap around his finger, twisting his arm and then tearing the finger off, stripping the tendon from his arm. He was unable to work for over two months and still suffers with depression and nightmares about the incident.
According to HSE’s investigation, the company’s risk assessment process had failed to recognise the hazard posed by the rotating stirrer and had therefore failed to effectively prevent access to the dangerous parts of the machinery.
Hotel Chocolat Limited, of Mint House, Royston, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching:
• regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
• regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
The company was fined a total of £25,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,521.26 and a victim surcharge of £200.
Speaking after sentencing, HSE Inspector Roxanne Barker said: “This serious injury was entirely preventable. The risks associated with rotating parts are well known and span many industries. The risk posed by the unguarded stirrer should have been obvious.
“The company should have put measures in place to prevent access to the dangerous parts of the machinery, not rely on the operator to isolate it. Following the incident they took the decision to fit interlocks and E-Stops to the tank units on 12 of these machines.”
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