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Food firm fined for worker's injuries

20 August 2014

A food company has been fined after an agency worker lost the tips of two fingers in unguarded machinery at a Newport bakery.


The woman, who lives in Cwmbran and does not wish to be named, was working at Solway Foods' Avana Bakeries site in Rogerstone, Newport (now owned by another company), when the incident happened on 19 September 2013 

The worker was cleaning cake mixture from a pipe by hand when her fingers got caught in part of the pump mechanism, severing the tips of her index and middle fingers of her right hand. 

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted Solway Foods at Newport Magistrates. 

The court heard that a co-worker was cleaning out the pump and connected inlet and outlet pipes using a hose. The pump was still running to enable the residual mixture from the last product to be pumped out. The injured worker had been cleaning up the water using a squeegee but when she noticed some cake mixture inside the inlet pipe, she put her hand in to remove it when her fingers touched the moving machinery. 

Although the company had put bars over the inlet and outlet parts on most of the other pumps in the factory, they had failed to do this on the pump involved in the incident. 

The worker still suffers pain as a result of the incident and experiences difficulty carrying out daily tasks which involve gripping. 

Solway Foods was fined £2400 and ordered to pay £4373 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. 

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Joanne Carter, said: "Blockages of moving machinery are common occurrences in the food industry and employees will often try to remove them or try to clean them while a machine is moving. If access to dangerous parts is not prevented, they could be badly injured. 

"Solway Foods clearly failed to ensure the safety of its workers, with very painful consequences for this agency worker. It is particularly disappointing that the company in this case had recognised the risk but had failed to guard all the pumps to the same standard. 

"In the case of machinery, moving parts that could cause injury should be guarded or other safety mechanisms installed to cut the power to the machine so that people cannot come into contact with them. Non-routine operations such as cleaning or maintenance are not exempt from this requirement.”