Severe hand injury at seafood processor caused by missed machinery checks
A large food manufacturer has been prosecuted following an industrial accident that left an employee with severe injuries to their hand that could have been prevented by routine checks.
In October 2017, at the premises of Young’s Seafood Ltd an employee was operating a food mixing machine. The employee lifted the machinery guard which was in place to stop workers from putting their hands into the mixing bowl whilst it was running.
This action should have stopped the machine, but it didn’t, and the worker’s hand caught on a powered augur and their arm was pulled in up to the elbow. As a result, the thumb and two fingers on his hand were severed.
Following an HSE investigation it was found that the interlock on the safety guard on the machine was faulty. The interlock was designed to stop the machine from operating if the safety guard was not in place. The HSE inspectors also found that the emergency stop on the machine did not work.
Based on these findings the HSE concluded that the process for checking machinery and reporting and fixing faults at the company was not effective.
Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) employers must carry out regular checks on machinery including any safety devices such as guards and interlocks.
In May 2021, the company was prosecuted because of the accident. In court, Young’s Seafood Ltd, of Wikcham Road, Grimsby, Lincolnshire, pleaded guilty to breaching S.2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and were fined £787,500 along with costs of £33,443.