Worker loses fingertips at food factory

HSElogoRed300East London convenience food manufacturer Oldfields has been fined for safety failings after an agency worker lost the tips from four fingers as he tried to unblock a dicing machine.

The worker sustained the injury while working a night shift as a production assistant at the firm, part of the international Greencore Group, at its plant in Tower Hamlets.

He had been feeding peppers into a dicing machine when he noticed that they were not coming out properly from the discharge chute. In an attempt to dislodge the jam, he pushed his fingers through a gap under the chute unaware there were rotating blades on the far side of the gap. The worker had the tips of four fingers of his right hand severed.

The incident, on 23 January 2011, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which yesterday (30 September) prosecuted Oldfields at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

Magistrates heard that HSE uncovered a series of safety failings by the company in relation to the dicing machine and fined the company £18,000 and ordered it to pay £9,399 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Tahir Mortuza said: “This was a totally preventable incident. Oldfields Ltd exposed a number of vulnerable workers to needless risk by their neglect of basic safety measures.

“There was an array of problems with the dicing machine, some of which the company were aware, yet they chose not to take corrective action. As a result this man was badly injured less than an hour after he went on to his shift as an agency worker.

“The company fell well short of the expected health and safety standards, which is particularly disappointing given that they would be well aware that their industry has one of the highest incident rates in manufacturing.”

This material is protected by copyright Ken Hurst 2013.

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About Ken Hurst

Ken Hurst began his career as a journalist in London over 30 years ago, working on a range of publications before moving on to weekly newspaper production in the newly-independent Zambia of the 1970s. He returned to the UK where his work included spells on newspapers and magazines, before moving to head up Norwich Union’s corporate affairs division. In the 1990s he moved on to freelance, co-own and publish the B2B audio magazine Sound and front the BBC radio Yesterday’s Papers programme. There followed six years as Business Editor at Britain’s biggest selling regional daily newspaper, The Eastern Daily Press, where he led an award-winning team and for whom he still writes a weekly socio/political comment column. Subsequently, he was Group Editorial Director at CBM, responsible for its UK and US magazine output – including The Manufacturer magazine – research-driven industry reports and live events content. Currently he is Contributing Editor at Works Management magazine publisher Findlay Media and Chairman of the consumer publishing house TNT Multimedia Ltd. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the British Association of Communicators in Business.
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