HSE warns of the need to safeguard employees after worker is injured in potato p
Date: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 @ 15:29:57 BST
Topic: Health and Safety Executive (HSE) News

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is reminding food processing and manufacturing companies to conduct suitable risk assessments, provide adequate machine guards and properly train operatives called upon to operate or clean machinery. The reminder follows HSE’s prosecution of a company and senior member of its management after a worker was seriously injured.

On 20th April, 2007 a 22yr old employee of Swancote Foods Ltd, of Hortonwood, Telford, was cleaning a conveyor-fed potato processing machine when he received lacerations, bruising and tendon damage to his left forearm and elbow.

Swancote Foods Ltd was, on 31st March, 2009, fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,000 by Telford Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to breaching section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Edward Davies, a senior manager of the company, was found not guilty of breaching the same section.

The court heard that there was a lack of safety guarding on the machine, which had not been identified by a risk assessment, and the injured worker was inadequately trained and supervised.

HSE inspector David Kivlin said: “Adequate safeguards on moving machinery and safe systems of working should always be in place. Employees had themselves spotted fundamental flaws in cleaning procedures and raised their concerns that insufficient safeguards existed for their protection but senior management did not heed those warnings.

"The worker’s injuries were sufficiently serious to cause some long-term discomfort and adversely affect his work capabilities. The machine should clearly have been properly guarded.

"Particularly in food processing industries the need for strict hygiene through regular cleaning is essential, so safe practices are paramount. Many incidents could be avoided if companies ensured that they had established a safe way of tackling those jobs and ensuring that competent persons are regularly assessing and minimising the associated risks." 

This article comes from Sheffield Occupational Health and Safety Association (SOHSA)

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