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Chocolate manufacturer in court after employee loses thumb

A chocolate and fudge manufacturing firm based in Leeds has been fined after one of its employees lost a thumb while cleaning an unguarded machine.

What happened?

46-year-old, Maria Pirie, had been cleaning one of the machines by herself for the first time, when she moved the ‘stirrer’ using the control buttons. As the stirrer moved, it sliced her thumb off and trapped it between the side of the vessel and the mechanism.

Though her thumb was surgically re-attached, it will never have the same functionality leaving her struggling with everyday tasks and having to learn to write with her opposite hand.

An investigation into the incident found that the firm had failed to properly guard the machine’s dangerous moving parts, and an accident could have been prevented by a simple interlocked guard – which the company later fitted.

In the food and drink industries, machinery and plant cause more than 30% of fatal injuries and more than 10% of major injuries each year.

What was the outcome?

Pecan Candy Deluxe (Europe) Ltd admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay £627 in costs.

HSE inspector, Rachel Brittain, said:

“This incident need not, and should not, have happened. The company
could easily have prevented access to the dangerous parts of the
chocolate hopper by making sure it was effectively guarded.
It did not and Ms Pirie has suffered a painful
and lasting injury as a result.

“Preventing workers from getting too close to moving parts of machinery
is vital. Pecan Deluxe Candy had subject to an enforcement notice
on guarding before this incident but obviously didn’t
sustain the improvements required.

“Too many are injured, limbs are lost and even fatalities can and
do happen because employers fail to guard machinery adequately.
Employees must also be well trained and supervised.”

If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email

Source: View article

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