Man lost hand in meat machine

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A FOOD firm in Barnsley has been fined £14,000 after two of its workers suffered severe injuries in incidents just three months apart.

James Hardcastle, 32, had to have his left hand amputated after it became trapped in the rotating knives of an industrial meat tenderiser in December 2009.

Weeks later, in March last year, a fellow worker severed the ends of two fingers on his right hand while feeding plastic film into a machine designed to seal food into packaging.

Both incidents happened at Cranswick Convenience Foods, on the Valley Park Industrial Estate in Wombwell, owned by Hull-based Studleigh-Royd Ltd.

The Health and Safety Executive said the firm could, and should, have prevented the safety rules breaches.

Barnsley Magistrates’ Court heard the tenderiser was poorly guarded, with workers able to access dangerous moving parts simply by using a metal object, like a knife, to override a guard.

Bypassing the guard made it quicker and easier to feed meat into the machine, but in doing so operators were at risk.

Mr Hardcastle’s gloved hand was drawn into the machine and his arm trapped between rotating knives. Engineers had to free him by dismantling the machine, but his left hand had been too badly damaged to save.

HSE reported an adequate knowledge and understanding of the requirements covering work equipment, combined with a proper risk assessment, would have identified the need for improved guarding. The guarding was also deemed inadequate on the machine that injured the unidentified second worker.

Studleigh-Royd Ltd was fined £8,000 relating to Mr Hardcastle and £6,000 on the second offence, plus £8,387.70 in costs.

HSE inspector Alison Crank said: “James Hardcastle will be forever scarred by the horrific injuries he sustained. The incidents that led to his and another employee’s injuries three months later were completely avoidable.”