Call me back

Food production leads to hand injury

Potatoes on a carousel
14th May 2014
A personal injury claim could be successfully pursued by a worker who lost two fingers following an accident at a Telford processing plant.

Food manufacturer Swancote Foods has been fined, after the cleaner suffered a severe hand injury in a potato processing machine.

The 38 year-old was reaching inside an outlet pipe to remove a piece of raw potato at the Horton Wood site, on February 15th 2010.

Disaster struck when the victim touched a rotating screw, which then severed the first two fingers on his left hand.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident found the guard on the machine had not been maintained properly – adding insult to injury for the man who'd already suffered quite an ordeal.

The guilty company, of Floods Ferry Road, in Doddington, Cambridgeshire, supplies cooked potato ingredients to manufacturers of prepared foods.

And this week the firm pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

The company has been fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £5,614 costs by Telford Magistrates' Court, this week.

As a result the employer could be subject to a personal injury claim in order for the man in question to receive damages for the pain and suffering he's had to endure.

The employee has since returned to work at the factory, but to a different job.

To this day he suffers restricted movement and reduced grip movement in his hand – meaning the hand injury has made everyday tasks difficult for him.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Lyn Mizen says: "This was a very serious incident, which was entirely preventable.

"As a result of Swancote Foods' failings, a man has suffered permanent, life-changing injuries to his hand.

"Companies must ensure that they have robust procedures in place to provide and maintain suitable, effective guarding.

"This case illustrates the consequences of failing to manage and control workplace risks adequately and HSE will not hesitate to hold companies to account for failing in their duties in such a way."

This case is similar to another incident that caused digits to become severed, for which the guilty party was prosecuted place last month.

55 year-old Terrence Grove is a mechanical engineer who became the victim of a severe hand injury when a half-ton angle plate fell on his hand.

The crushing injury meant his thumb had to be amputated, and it's something he’s still struggling with on a daily basis.

Reported by Fiona Campbell