Thorntons, a UK chocolate manufacturer, has been ordered to pay fines of £20,000 by Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court after an accident with a wrapping machine where a 37 year old worker broke her finger while operating it on November 17, 2009. The worker in question, Ellen Yardley from Derbyshire, was in the company’s head office in Somercotes working on a wrapping machine, which is used for wrapping chocolates in foil before dispensing them down a chute into a tray.
During a break, Ms Yardley tried to clean the inside of the output chute where caramel had spread and created a mess, however the machine was still running. The cloth she was using got caught in the rotating parts and the machine pulled in her right hand. Subsequently her middle finger sustained a cut and a fracture, and she was unable to work for 10 weeks.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation and discovered that the machine did in actual fact have guarding installed, but it was not adequate. A further audit of the factory’s other machines discovered that many of them needed safety improvements, for example – preventing access to dangerous parts or the reparations of existing safeguards.
Stuart Parry, a HSE inspector, had this to day following the hearing –
“Thorntons should never have allowed the machinery guarding to fall below the legal safety standards.
“It was effectively asking its employees to work on machines that put them at risk of injury.
“It was entirely foreseeable that the inadequate guarding could lead to injury and even if Ms Yardley had not used a cloth, her hand could still have been drawn into the machine while cleaning it. If the company had carried out an adequate risk assessment of its machinery, its workers would not have been put at risk and in Ms Yardley’s case painfully injured.”
A Thorntons spokesman stated –
“The company accepts the court’s decision regarding the fine imposed in relation to the two technical breaches.”