Bread giant Warburtons has received a £1.9m fine after pleading guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, after an agency worker was injured when his arm became trapped in a machine for 20 minutes. Agency worker Wayne Thorpe became trapped between a conveyor belt and moulder as he attempted to clean out dough which had become caught between tins. He was left with friction burns requiring skin grafts.
Tim Pole of the HSE said in court that following Mr Thorpe’s arm becoming trapped another worker pressed an “emergency stop button”, but this did not prevent a conveyor belt from continuing to turn. It was brought to a standstill when another employee put his hand through “a light curtain.” Mr Thorpe was freed 20 minutes after becoming trapped, following engineers dismantling the equipment. He received first aid and was taken to hospital.
Warburtons Ltd of Mushroom Farm Eastwood, Nottingham, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £1.9 million and ordered to pay full costs of £21,459.71. Judge Rosalind Coe QC said that the 40mm trapping point was “overlooked,” and that “guarding of machines was inconsistent. Remedial steps were simple and not unduly expensive.”
Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Edward Walker, said: “Warburtons failed to guard the machine sufficiently to prevent access to the running conveyors, which in this case could have prevented the injuries. Employers should ensure that all equipment used by agency and their own workers alike are sufficiently guarded and take appropriate measures if any deficiencies are found.”