An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Q Cold had assessed the risks associated with the packing line and had installed both fixed guards and interlocked doors to prevent access to dangerous moving parts. However, one of the fixed guards was not properly secured and was effectively useless.
It found the firm had taken precautions but failed to ensure regular checks or controls were in place.
Suet packing line
Ewalina Giedziun from Hereford, UK, sustained the injury while working on a suet packing line at Q Cold Limited's Ledbury site on 17 October 2011.
The tip of her index finger on her left hand was severed when she reached into the machine and came into contact with heated clamping jaws that crimp and seal plastic bags once filled. She was unable to work for several months as a result of the incident.
Q Cold pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was ordered to pay £2,348 in costs.
Chris Gregory, HSE inspector, said: “The company was aware of the potential dangers and had taken precautions, but failed to ensure checks or controls were in place to monitor whether those precautions were maintained.
"The offending guard was not secure and had either been moved or moved itself, creating a gap into which people could reach. It was secondary to the interlocking doors, but was still important as it created distance between the workers and moving parts of machinery.
"The company's failure resulted in Ewalina suffering a painful injury and emotional trauma that left her unable to work for a considerable time."