Biscuit giant prosecuted after worker's fingers severed in mixing machine

Friday 30 July 2010

One of the UK's leading food manufacturers was today (30 July) fined £10,000 after a worker had two fingers sliced off in one of its mixing machines.

McVities manufacturer United Biscuits (UK) Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation into the incident on 9 April 2009 at a cake baking site in Halifax.

Halifax Magistrates court heard how an employee, who asked not to be named, lost two fingers on her right hand when she attempted to clear a blockage in an industrial sized mixer, used to combine ingredients for flapjacks.

HSE's investigation found the employee had to scale a two metre fixed step ladder in order to reach the machine, empty the mixture inside, and then restart it. Though the mixer had stopped, the blades inside were still rotating and when she reached in her fingers were severed.

The company pleaded guilty of breaching section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 after the incident at the McVities Cake Company on Hopwood Lane. In addition to the £10,000 fine, the company was also ordered to pay £2,889 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Rachel Brittain said:

"An incident like this should not happen in any company, but taking place in such a large scale food manufacturer such as this is absolutely unacceptable.

"Preventing access to moving parts and fitting guards is an elementary and essential precautionary measure and inexpensive. By not putting these measures in place United Biscuits failed to fulfill its duty of care to its employees."

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