In June 2010, a 22-year-old female worker suffered a dislocated elbow and broken arm as a result of an accident involving a potato-blanching machine. The woman, who can’t be named for legal reasons, was working for Bakkavor Foods Ltd at their Wigan site, where fresh vegetables and salads are packaged.
The worker, from Platt Bridge, caught her arm between a roller and a conveyor belt on the machine, which lacked appropriate safety guards. Her injuries meant she was unable to return to work for 8 months.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation, which revealed that staff regularly cleaned the machine’s rollers whilst they were still rotating.
At the Trafford Magistrates’ Court hearing, Bakkavor Foods, based in Spalding, Lincolnshire, admitted a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. They were fined £10,000 plus £2,026 costs.
After the hearing, and HSE inspector noted that the machine had been used without a guard for more than 10 years, and that it was only a matter of time before an incident like this occurred.
Following the accident, the company has fitted a wire mesh guard over the rollers, which means it can now be cleaned without the risk of workers becoming caught in the machinery.
In cases like this, where an employer has failed to put adequate safety measures in place, workers can often claim compensation in the event of an injury. Contact us today if you think you may have a case.