August 1, 2018

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In Court

Four fingers lost by worker and another exposed to toxic gas

A food flavourings company has been fined after two separate health and safety breaches at its premises.

In October 2016 a worker at Frutarom (UK) Ltd’s Hartlepool factory was emptying a part-finished product from a drum into two smaller containers when the toxic gas hydrogen sulphide was released from the liquid being decanted.

HSE’s investigation into this incident found that Frutarom had used hydrogen sulphide gas as part of the manufacturing process for several years. They had danger warnings about the gas on their work instructions but did not instruct workers to carry out industry standard practices to safely remove the gas.

Lost fingers

In June 2017 an agency worker lost four of his fingers when his hand came into contact with mixing blades inside a mixing machine.

The HSE found that the company failed to prevent access into the discharge chute of the machine after failing to identify this as a risk. The company was not aware of the significance of a grille cover on the discharge chute which, had it been fixed to the machine or interlocked, would have prevented the incident from occurring.

Charges

Relating to the incident in October 2016, Frutarom (UK) Ltd of Riverside Avenue West, Lawford, Manningtree, Essex pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,603.90.

Relating to the incident in July 2017, the company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,992.51.

HSE Inspector Edward Crick said: “The injuries sustained by the employee after the incident in July 2017 would have been prevented had a suitable and sufficient risk assessment been undertaken.

“Sadly, the company missed probably the most significant hazard associated with the use of the machine and therefore failed to take any appropriate action to eliminate the risk.”

Of the 2016 incident, HSE inspector Julian Nettleton said: “It was fortunate that no one was harmed following the release of hydrogen sulphide.

“Frutarom knew about the hazards of handling this chemical but had not sufficiently considered the specific risks from the task which workers were routinely carrying out.”

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