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September 30, 2010

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Chicken firm rapped for hand-skinning incident

A chicken-processing company has been criticised for failing to protect its employees following two serious incidents at its factory in Norfolk.

Thetford Magistrates’ Court heard that the first incident took place on 24 July 2009 at Crown Chicken Ltd’s facility in Norwich. An employee was using a de-skinning machine, which is used to skin chicken carcasses, when his glove got caught and his hand was pulled into the blade. The skin on the back of his hand, from his knuckles to his wrist, was torn away from the underlying tissue.

The HSE found that the machine did not have adequate guards, or an emergency stop button. It also identified that the gloves provided for workers failed to give suitable protection. A Prohibition Notice was issued on 25 August 2009, which required the machine to be removed from service until safeguards were put in place.

On 2 December 2009, another employee severed a finger when his hand was crushed by the lifting mechanism of a forklift truck, as he stood on the forks to access the back of some refrigerated trailers.

HSE inspector, Saffron Turnell, revealed that guidance from both the HSE and the forklift manufacturer warns that it is unsafe to stand on the forks of a forklift truck, but the company had not provided a safe way for workers to access the back of the trailers.

Crown Chicken Ltd appeared in court on 27 September and admitted two breaches of s2(1) of the HSWA 1974, It was fined £4000 for each offence and ordered to pay £5500 in costs.

SHP contacted the company to offer it the chance to provide mitigation, but it declined to comment on the incidents.
After the hearing, inspector Turnell said: “These two incidents resulted in very serious and painful injuries to both men. What is more, both could easily have been avoided if Crown Chicken had taken the correct health and safety precautions.

“The company failed to ensure that simple measures were in place to protect employees using the de-skinning machine. Similarly, the company had no safe method for staff to access the refrigerated trailers.”

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