Last week, Liverpool Crown Court slapped a food packaging firm with a £100K fine for safety shortcomings after an employee’s thumb was cut off.
The court heard how the accident happened at Jiffy Packaging Company Ltd. The worker’s thumb was severed as he reached through to clean ink from the roller of one of the machine’s frame that had an unguarded section.
His hand was pulled into the revolving clogs when the rag he was using to clean the ink was trapped in one of the motorized clogs severing his left thumb. He was admitted into hospital where he had to receive skin grafts and thus could not work for 15 weeks.
Not Fully Guarded
According to an investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the machine’s rollers and clogs were only partially guarded with an interlocked guard. The company was negligent in that it did not take adequate steps to ensure that all the dangerous parts of the machinery were not accessed.
It was further established that a worker who had no training in creating risk assessments had actually written the firm’s risk assessment nine years before this unfortunate incident occurred. The assessment neither identified the risks associated with unguarded machinery, nor provided any control measures.
HSE Improvement Notices Ignored
Despite several HSE improvement notices served to Jiffy Packaging Company Ltd in 2013 highlighting its machinery guarding issues, no action was taken to address those issues.
The company was ordered to pay a fine to the tune of £70,000, plus costs of £53,509 after it was found guilty of violating Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at work etc Act 1974.
At the end of the hearing, HSE inspector Adam McMahon said that if a proper and adequate risk assessment had be completed, and the appropriate control measures implemented, the employee’s injuries could have been avoided.
According to McMahon, the day after the accident, the company did what it should have done way back in 2013. It conducted a new risk assessment of the machine, and ensured that the area in which the worker reached through was guarded with a clear plastic screen.
This was followed up with the company’s safe working system (in writing) regarding cleaning the rollers.