Meat company fined after workers lose fingers

A meat company in the UK was been fined for breaching safety regulations following two separate machinery-related incidents where employees lost fingers.

2 Sisters Food Group Ltd was brought before Colchester Magistrates’ Court to be sentenced for a work-place accident at its poultry site in Flixton, Norfolk on March 26, 2016.

On the day in question, employee Romas Ciurlionis trapped his thumb in a moving shackle shortly after being shown how to remove chicken intestines.

As the line was running, he was pulled away from the emergency stop cord and when it moved past a fixed gate his thumb was severed.

In a separate incident a few months later on August 23, 2016, another worker, Darren Hamilton, entered an area of the factory that should have had the power isolated before cleaning activities commenced.

The safe system of work was not being followed and the shackle line was still running when his finger became trapped. As he could not reach the emergency stop his finger was severed.

Investigations

The investigations carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that 2 Sisters Food Group Ltd had failed to ensure that measures were in place to mitigate the consequences of a worker becoming entrapped in a shackle in the first instance and that they failed to ensure safe isolation procedures were followed in the second.

2 Sisters Food Group Ltd of Grange Road, Flixton, Bungay pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Works Equipment Regulations 1998 in relation to the first incident and has been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,031.83.

In respect of the second incident, 2 Sisters Food Group Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 and has been fined £74,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,386.52.

The total fine imposed on the firm came to £274,000 (€312,600) – plus costs totalling £8,418.35 (€9,604.30).

After the hearing, HSE inspector Saffron Turnell said: “These incidents could so easily have been avoided had appropriate controls been in place.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”