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April 2, 2015

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£7,000 fine for food company after worker injures hand

A Southampton worker suffered serious injuries when his arm was dragged into an unguarded part of a conveyor belt at a chicken hatchery business in Romsey, a court has heard. The HSE said that the “debilitating and traumatic” incident could have been avoided had proper risk assessments, safeguards and controls been in place.

Supervisor Andrew House, from Calmore, needed hospital treatment and was unable to work for several months after the incident at Faccenda Foods hatchery on 17 March 2014.

Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard the victim’s left hand was pulled into the ‘running nip’ of the conveyor belt while cleaning the area.  He was unable to reach an emergency stop control and a colleague had to stop the conveyor running so Mr House could be released.

Mr House spent seven days in hospital, required two operations and needed several months off work. He now has limited use of his hand and although he has been able to return to work, still has physiotherapy to help increase his mobility.

The HSE investigated and prosecuted Faccenda Foods for safety failings after identifying that the dangerous nip of the belt was totally unguarded.

The court was told that Faccenda Foods, a UK foods business based in Northamptonshire, had been prosecuted by HSE back in 2001 as a result of an incident involving poorly-guarded machinery.

Faccenda Foods, of Willow Road, Brackley, Northamptonshire, was fined a total of £7000 and ordered to pay £2909.25 in costs after admitting two breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and a single breach of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Kate Clark said: “Andrew House suffered an awful injury to his hand which left him unable to use it for months. It was debilitating and traumatic.

“The fact is that it need not have happened at all. Faccenda Foods should have carried out a proper assessment of the risks involved in operating the machine. That would have identified the safeguards and controls and that were needed and the firm would have been able to put those measures in place.

“The risk to workers of becoming trapped in moving machinery is well-known in the industry and should not be under-estimated, as these incidents account for hundreds of injuries each year, and even deaths.

“If the guards that Faccenda installed after Mr House’s injury had been there at the time, it is extremely unlikely he would have become trapped.”

Faccenda Foods issued the following statement in response to the prosecution:

“Following an incident at Faccenda Foods’ Ower Hatchery, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) decided to prosecute and the matter was judged at Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 31st March. The company immediately admitted responsibility and has given full co-operation to the HSE,” Andy Dawkins, managing director of Faccenda Foods, said.

“In the incident, an operative, Andrew House, injured his hand in a piece of machinery. We are pleased to say that Andrew has made a full recovery and has returned to work.

“Faccenda Foods takes its responsibility for health and safety very seriously. We welcome the court’s judgement that the accident was low in culpability, risk and harm.

“The court recognised Faccenda Foods’ overall safety record and acknowledged the equipment and systems already in place for managing health and safety. It also noted the commitment and actions undertaken by Faccenda Foods following the incident to ensure further improvements.”


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