The HSE is at it again with a brace of new fines

Industry news roundup: week ended 1 Oct 2012:

It’s been work accident claims as far as the eye can see lately, with the Health & Safety Executive putting the hurt on negligent employers.

One recent news story of the HSE’s continued rampage against employers with more business sense than a sense for their employees’ safety came recently, as 25 year old farm worker who had his hand mangled by a potato crusher as he attempted to clear a blockage in 2009.

The man, whose name hasn’t been released to the public, had been working at the Sleaford-based Waterloo Farm, picking up some casual work during the potato harvest. However, due to the rocky soil of the farm the potato crusher fitted to the farm’s harvesting equipment became blocked with stones repeatedly, which resulted in farm workers having to signal the driver of the harvester stop the machine and deactivate it before reaching inside the crusher to clear the blockage.

However, the incident that led to the personal injury at work occurred when the driver missed the worker’s signal yet stopped for an unrelated reason. The worker, incorrectly believing that the driver had stopped and isolated the power to the crusher, reached inside, only to have three tendons in his right hand severed by the mechanism, resulting in the HSE investigating and then prosecuting the farmer for neglecting to set a safe work system up or undertaking a proper risk assesment – resulting in a £20,000 fine for the farmer.

Another food-related accident the following year also made it into magistrates’ court recently as well, though this one didn’t involve a mechanical mangling. Instead, one snack manufacturing company employee broke his leg when he was trapped under an avalanche of falling waste after a forklift truck to turn transport solidified production waste.

Another unnamed man, who had been working for Walkers Snack Foods Ltd at the manufacturing firm’s Lincoln plant, had been attempting to move the waste with the help of a colleague after it had been filled to the brim with production line waste run-off. The men had been moving the block of solidified waste with the forklift to place it into a bin, only to have the block come tumbling down because the fork lift became stuck at the top.

The 400kg block crushed the man’s leg, causing severe enough injury to require a 15 week recovery period where he was unable to work. The company, which had been found to have not undertaken safe planning, supervision, or execution of the work that caused the man’s injury, was fined – again for £20,000, much like the farm company.

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