Meat Business Handed Financial Sanction Over Finger Cut

| General

In late April 2023, the Health and Safety and Executive through the Taunton Magistrates Court handed down a juicy financial sanction of one-hundred-thousand pounds as there was a correlative relationship between its conduct in not mitigating the risk of members of the workforce sustaining serious injuries and an incident which occurred in October 2018 whereby a colleague severed a digit on her right hand whilst conducting her day-to-day activities on a piece of industrial machinery.  

What Happened In The Case?

When the incident occurred the member of the workforce was busy operating a piece of commercial equipment designed to cut chicken offal such as livers and hearts. All was progressing well until matters went off quickly when the colleague at the centre of the proceedings in the case observed that something was amiss, to say the least with the mechanism of the machine. She appears to have identified that a large quantity of the cut meat had accumulated near the blades connected to the piece of industrial machinery in the workplace.   
When the issue with the piece of equipment presented itself the member of the workforce appears to have been of the view that the machine was not functioning properly and in an effort to rectify the problem she sought to remove the meat items accumulating close to the equipment blades by stretching her arm positioned on the right-hand side of her body to remove the offending material. However, her plan to clear the blocked machine appears to have backfired when her hand became trapped within the mechanism of the piece of industrial machinery designed to cut the meat. The member of the workforce did not get out of the incident unscathed and the piece of industrial meat-cutting equipment she operated inflicted a significant cutting injury to the index finger located on her right hand. 

What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?

Owing to the significance of both the circumstances which had taken place and the injuries inflicted upon the member of the workforce by the piece of industrial machinery designed for meat chopping purposes industry enforcement the Health and Safety Executive probed and discovered evidence which seemed to suggest that the business specialising in processing meat had fallen short of its regulatory duties to ensure that members of the workforce could not gain access to the parts of the piece of the machinery which were designed for chopping the meat items, funnel connected to the equipment and other moveable sections.

Feet to the Fire?

Eventually, when the case made its way to the Magistrates Court located in Taunton in the county of Somerset the bench was damning over the behaviour of the business. When confronted with the allegations in open court it admitted to contravening section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which legally obliges employers to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of colleagues who operated under its jurisdiction and did not have adequate processes in position to mitigate against the risk of colleagues from accessing the internal mechanism of industrial equipment. The HSE commented that the business specialising in the processing of meat had:
-    fallen short in its regulatory duties to implement working processes reducing the likelihood of colleagues accessing the internal mechanisms of industrial equipment
-    failed to make an assessment of the risk of bodily damage and
-    not provided the correct level of oversight over those operating equipment.   
If you have experienced something similar, or have an opposing viewpoint, please kindly leave a comment on the article or contact us. 

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