Saturday, 24 May 2014

Heinz fined after worker's hand is severed by machine

Heinz was fined £59,661 (inc. costs) on 16 May 2014 after an engineer had his hand severed when it became trapped in live, unguarded machinery at its Norfolk plant.
The circumstances were:
  • Alec Brackenbury was servicing a potato peeling machine at Heinz’s Westwick plant on 20 June 2013.
  • This machine was electrically isolated and locked off.
  • An associated slurry pump which seemed to be part of the same machine had a separate supply.   
  • Mr. Brackenbury was unaware of this and believed he had isolated the pump along with the peeler at the main distribution box.
  • A protective grate bolted on top of the pump to prevent access, was absent, enabling Mr Brackenbury to reach into the screw auger of the pump.
  • As he tried to retrieve a dropped bolt, he put his hand into the slurry pump below, which operated and severed his right hand.

The HSE Inspector said:
“Mr Brackenbury suffered a horrific injury in an incident that was wholly avoidable. Maintenance activities on production machinery will invariably involve additional hazards beyond those present in normal operation. Mr. Brackenbury was put at risk by Heinz Ltd’s inadequate assessment of risks and lack of effective measures to stop access to dangerous parts of equipment. It is the duty of the employer to ensure their employees and contractors can carry out their work safely. Sadly in this case Heinz failed to protect Mr Brackenbury while he was contracted to carry out maintenance work at their Westwick plant and, as a result, he has suffered a life-changing injury.”

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