A Dronfield company which produces packaging for the food processing industry has been fined after a worker suffered serious hand injuries unblocking an incorrectly-guarded machine.
Andrew Rawson, 48, of Dronfield, was operating a food casing machine at Rillatech Limited’s factory when the incident happened on 8 January 2013.
Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court heard that while trying to free a jam inside the machine, which was still running, Mr Rawson reached around the guards and his fingers came into contact with a clipper. The index finger on his right hand was severed at the first joint, as well as the tip of his right thumb.
Mr Rawson required plastic surgery to treat his injuries and was unable to drive for three months. He was off work for a year but has since returned to work for the company.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the machine and another identical model should have been installed with better guarding to protect workers while removing blockages.
HSE found a similar incident had happened previously and Rillatech Limited subsequently installed further guarding, but this did not fully prevent operators accessing dangerous moving parts of the machine.
Since Mr Rawson’s injury, guarding had been improved and safer systems of work implemented to help prevent similar incidents occurring.
Rillatech Limited of Callywhite Lane, Dronfield, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £13,000 with £7,353 costs.
For further guidance, go to www.hse.gov.uk/food/package.htm