hse_logoAn East London food manufacturing firm has been heavily fined by the Westminster Magistrates’ Court after it was found that health and safety failings meant that an agency worker lost his fingertips in an accident at work.

The un-named worker from East London – who didn’t wish to be named for personal reasons – was working for Oldfield Limited at Greencore Group plc’s factory in Tower Hamlets when the accident occurred in January 2011. He had been feeding peppers into a dicing machine when he noticed that they were not coming out from the discharge chute properly. He therefore attempted to dislodge the jam by pushing his fingers into a gap in the chute, not realising that there were revolving blades in the gap. This resulted in the worker losing all four fingertips on his right hand.

The matter was reported to the Health and Safety Executive after the accident and an investigation was undertaken. This investigation found that there had been serious health and safety failings by Oldfields Limited, including:

  • Failing to carry out sufficient risk assessments on the machine
  • Failing to follow its own health and safety procedures
  • Failing to give the worker adequate instructions, training or supervision
  • Failing to prevent access to the machine’s dangerous moving parts

The Health and Safety Executive therefore recommended that a prosecution against the company take place.

The matter came to the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 30 September 2013. Oldfields Limited pleaded guilty to a breach of s.3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay £9,399 towards the costs of the prosecution in conducting the matter.

HSE Inspector Tahir Mortuza said: “This was a totally preventable incident. Oldfields Ltd exposed a number of vulnerable workers to needless risk by their neglect of basic safety measures.”

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The Direct 2 Lawyers Employment Team post daily on interesting employment law cases, Employment Tribunal judgments and Employment Appeal Tribunal judgments. All of the Employment Team posts are written by qualified specialist employment lawyers

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