Severed finger incident lands food firm fine

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A DONCASTER food manufacturer has been fined £5,000 for safety offences after one of its workers lost the tip of her finger using a badly-guarded machine.

Junu Thapa, aged 37, of Flint Road, Intake, severed the end of the ring finger on her left hand as she tried to clear a blockage in a packing machine at King Asia Foods Ltd in November 2010.

The Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident and 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 on the Doncaster Carr industrial estate where a mobile screw conveyor was being used to fill a packing machine with powdered ingredients.

But the machine was known to block regularly.

Inspectors found the fixed guard over the top of the hopper, which prevented workers getting access to the dangerous screw part, had been modified, 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. She was treated in hospital and has since found work with another firm.

King Asia Foods Ltd, of Middle Bank, Doncaster, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,506 after admitting breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

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 and understood by all employees.”