A food processing firm has been sentenced after one of its employees suffered serious injuries to her arm at a Wigan factory, in events that could lead to work compensation claims.
The worker, who has asked not to be named, needed a metal plate in her left arm after it became caught in a potato blanching machine at the plant on Dobson Park Way in Ince.
Bakkavor Foods Ltd, which packages salads and fresh vegetables, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to ensure the dangerous parts on the machine were guarded.
Trafford Magistrates' Court heard the 22-year-old hygiene worker from Platt Bridge dislocated her elbow and broke three bones in her arm after it became caught between a conveyor belt and rollers on 28 June 2010.
She was off work for eight months, which could provide another mitigation in the case for winning successful accident compensation for the injured woman.
The HSE investigation found that the machine had been used without a guard for more than a decade, which could have left the company funding a multitude of accident claims over the years.
It was also revealed that the rollers were regularly cleaned while they were still spinning, which could have led to an even greater proportion of incidents that could have been subject to serious accident claims.
Bakkavor Foods Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
The company, of West Marsh Road, Spalding, Lincolnshire, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £2,026 in prosecution costs on 21 October 2011.
Speaking after the hearing, Helen Mansfield, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:
"A young worker has suffered a life-long injury that could easily have been prevented if Bakkavor had put more thought into the safety of its employees.
"Sadly the machine had been operated without a guard for more than ten years, making it almost inevitable that someone would be injured if they came into contact with the dangerous moving parts.
"The company has now installed a simple mesh guard over the rollers which means they can be cleaned without the risk of workers' arms being dragged in."
Although this would be too late for the 22 year old hygiene worker, some recompense will hopefully be won by the woman thanks to work accident compensation.
On average, 34 workers are killed and nearly 5,000 suffer major injuries in the manufacturing industry in Great Britain every year. Information on preventing injuries is available at www.hse.gov.uk/manufacturing.
Posted by Bryony Flack-Crane