Chocolate manufacturer fined £28k for workplace accident

A manufacturing company has been prosecuted by the HSE after one of its employees sustained horrific hand and arm injuries whilst cleaning a piece of equipment.

The 35 year old worker was cleaning a tank to enable it to be reassembled ready for production when the accident occurred. He was using a blue cloth to clean it and this became trapped in the rotating stirrer mechanism which then wrapped around his finger, ripping it off, and then continued to twist his arm around until it became jammed.

After an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive, the Court heard that the company had not made proper risk assessments of the dangers working close to the stirrers and failed to put safety guards in place to prevent access to the dangerous parts of this machinery.

The worker not only lost his finger and had a tendon stripped from his arm but he was also unable to work for a number of months and suffers flashbacks from the incident. He is also on medication for depression as a result of the incident.

The manufacturer pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, and regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. They were fined £25,000 and ordered to pay court costs of £2,521.26 plus a victim surcharge of £200.

An HSE Inspector said:

“This serious injury was entirely preventable. The risks associated with rotating parts are well known and span many industries. The risk posed by the unguarded stirrer should have been obvious.

“The company should have put measures in place to prevent access to the dangerous parts of the machinery, not rely on the operator to isolate it. Following the incident they took the decision to fit interlocks and E-Stops to the tank units on 12 of these machines.”


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