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Food firm prosecuted after worker suffers crushed finger

24-Mar-2014

Veetee Foods has been prosecuted for safety failings after a worker’s hand was trapped by a sealing machine.

The firm was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £3,023 after admitting the regulation breach.

The incident was investigated by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the firm after finding the machine’s safety guarding had been disabled.

HSE found the interlocked safety gate to the machine had been defeated, allowing workers to get too close to dangerous moving parts of machinery.

The agency could not determine exactly how long it had not been functioning as suitable guard checks were not undertaken by the company.

Oil leak stopped production

The court was told the incident, on 22 March 2012, happened at the start of a nightshift at the plant when production was halted because of an oil leak on a machine that sealed containers of cooked food.

Craig Brandie, an employee of the international food manufacturer, suffered a crushed finger when he and colleagues began to clean the machine after an oil leak.

Brandie was cleaning a conveyor section of the machine when it began running and part of the mechanism clamped down on his left hand trapping it until colleagues were able to free him.

Machinery guards not used

HSE Inspector Guy Widdowson said: “If Veetee Foods had ensured machinery guards were in place and being used, their employee would not have been harmed.”

He said it was more down to luck that such an event did not lead to a more serious injury.

“Far too many workers are injured because they have come into contact with dangerous machinery that should be properly guarded.

“It is critical that safety mechanisms are in place, fully functioning and regularly checked.”

The website of Veetee Foods says it produces dry rice products for clients in more than 70 countries under its own brand or retailer labels with an annual global manufacturing capacity of 225,000 tonnes.

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