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Huhtamaki fined after worker lost a finger in accident

By Joe Whitworth+

31-Jan-2014
Last updated on 31-Jan-2014 at 12:32 GMT

Huhtamaki has been fined £7k and ordered to pay more than £3k in costs after a worker lost a finger in an unguarded chain on a machine.

The UK division of Huhtamaki Oyj, the global packaging company, was found to have breached safety failings by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

A 54-year-old worker, who does not want to be named, severed the first finger on his right hand to the bone in the incident at Huhtamaki UK in Gosport on 4 February last year.

It was amputated the next day after surgeons were unable to save it.

Huhtamaki response

Katariina Hietaranta, head of group communications and investor relations at the firm, told FoodQualityNews.com that the firm was sorry that such an incident took place.

“Since then we have taken measures to make sure such an accident will not happen again.

“We pleaded guilty as it was due to our shortcomings but we have taken every effort to ensure worker safety since and the guarding is now installed.”

Huhtamaki specialises in food and drink packaging and operates 60 manufacturing sites worldwide, including the Hampshire factory.

The UK operation was prosecuted (30 January) by the HSE after an investigation found that more could and should have been done to make the machine safe.

Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard the injured worker, who has worked for the company for 34 years, was part of a two-man team feeding plastic sheets into the machine after a product change.

As he worked from the side of the machine to feed a sheet onto a chain that would draw it inside – described as a spiked bicycle chain – his finger was caught between the chain and a roller.

Could have been avoided

HSE identified that had the feeding line been properly guarded to prevent access to dangerous parts then the incident could have been avoided.

The court was told that Huhtamaki UK failed to fully assess and identify the risks posed by the lack of guarding, and take appropriate action.

Huhtamaki UK was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay £3,088 in costs after being found guilty of a single breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Russell Beckett, HSE Inspector, said incidents of this kind were all too common and the onus is on employers to ensure appropriate guarding is in place.

“The company had a previously good health and safety record, but on this occasion it fell below the minimum legal standards for safety and an employee was badly injured as a result.

“The spiked feed chain was easily accessible from the side of the machine, and it was a dangerous moving part that posed a clear risk.”

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