Drinks company fined after employee’s finger is amputated

Credit: HSE

A drinks company in Leicestershire has been fined £14,000 after an employee’s finger was amputated after being caught in the bottling machinery.

Daniel Richardson was helping a colleague who was encountering problems with a bottle capping machine at Drinks Chef‘s plant in Wigston on 17 January 2022.

Richardson reached into the machine and into the capper unit to remove the jammed part, this is when the capper head descended onto his finger.

Attempts were made to re-attach the tip of the finger, however, this was unsuccessful, leading to the amputation of his finger between the first and second knuckles.

Following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), it was determined that Sourcing International Limited, trading under the name Drinks Chef, failed to adequately safeguard against access to hazardous machinery parts.

Specifically, fixed guarding had been removed, and the machine was frequently operated without it.

An interlock device, designed to deactivate power and halt machine operation upon the opening of protective doors or guards elsewhere on the machine, was found to be inoperative, allowing further access to moving machinery parts.

Sourcing International Limited, trading as Drinks Chef and located at Unit A1 Bowbridge Works, Chartwell Drive, Wigston, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

During a hearing at Loughborough Magistrates Court on April 24, the company was fined £14,000 and directed to pay costs totalling £4,175.79.

HSE inspector Rebecca Gibson said: “This tragic incident highlights the duty on employers to ensure machinery, and other work equipment, is safe for use. Suitable guards would render dangerous parts of machinery inaccessible during normal use and would have avoided this serious injury to Mr Richardson.”

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