Meat company fined after worker severs fingers

A Herefordshire catering and retail butchers has been fined after a teenage worker severed three fingers and partially a fourth while operating machinery that hadn’t been suitably guarded.

On 18 July 2020, the 18-year-old man was operating a grinding machine at LDA Meats Limited, Lyndon Business Park, Lower Road Trading Estate, Ledbury.

While he was mincing some lamb, he slipped on the wet floor and, in an attempt to save himself, put his hand out and into the machine. This caused him to sever his fingers when his hand came into contact with the rotating worm thread in the machine.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the machine had not been suitably and sufficiently assessed to identify the hazardous parts, the risks associated with the machine or the required control measures to prevent access to dangerous parts.

The investigation also found the machine was not subject to routine guard checks. This meant an issue with the safety cut out device within the lid of the machine had not been detected or remedied. It was possible for the machine to be operated with the lid open resulting in access to dangerous rotating parts.

LDA Meats Limited of St Ethelbert House, Ryelands Street, Hereford pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regs 1998. The company was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,339.80.

HSE inspector Seren Linton said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided – instead a teenage worker was permanently disfigured at the very start of his working life.

“Employers should make sure they properly assess and apply effective control measures to minimise the risks from dangerous parts of machinery.”

The HSE prosecution was supported by HSE enforcement lawyer Jon Mack and paralegal officer Helen Jacob.