Food firm fined over finger slice accident

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A FOOD manufacturer was fined for safety offences yesterday after one of its workers lost the tip of her finger using a badly-guarded machine.

Junu Thapa, 37, of Flint Road, Doncaster, severed the end of the ring finger on her left hand as she tried to clear a blockage in a packing machine at the town’s King Asia Foods Ltd.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and yesterday prosecuted the company for breaching regulations designed to safeguard workers using machinery.

Doncaster magistrates heard Ms Thapa was in the production area at the firm’s premises at Doncaster Carr industrial estate.

A conveyor was being used to fill a packing machine with powdered ingredients but the machine was known to block regularly.

HSE officials found that the fixed guard over the top of the hopper, which prevented workers getting access to the dangerous screw part, had been modified.

Instead of being fixed at all four corners, it was fixed at only two, allowing it to be lifted while the machine was running.

Ms Thapa attempted to clear a blockage while the machine was operating and her hand slipped, hitting the screw mechanism.

King Asia Foods Ltd was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,506 after admitting breaching safety regulations.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Lincoln Marks said: “This incident would not have been possible had the fixed guard not been modified, and had a safe system of work for clearing blockages been established by King Asia Foods.

“The risks from screw conveyors are well understood in industry and yet poor controls against those risks continue to be a major cause of serious injury.

“This case highlights the dangers of companies not properly safeguarding their employees, and the importance of robust management systems for the checking of guarding arrangements.”