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Ashbury Chocolates fined £5,000 following worker’s severed finger

Posted in: Workplace Injuries 

Ashbury Chocolates, a chocolate making company from Corby, Northamptonshire, has been fined £5,000 after an employee’s finger was severed when cleaning the machinery. After the company admitted to breaching equipment regulations at Kettering Magistrates’ Court, they were fined £5,000, on top of which they had to pay costs of £3,500 and a victim surcharge of £15. 

Joao Countinho, aged 41 from Peterborough, was cleaning the part of the machine which pipes liquid chocolate into moulds, called the depositor, on the 29th of February last year. Prosecutors say he reached up to check that the stirrer cavity was clean, after removing the rotors, but found his left index finger trapped as the stirrers were still rotating. Mr Countinho’s finger was only partially severed but was fully amputated later in hospital. 

No interlocking guard at the bottom of machine

Mr Countinho was off work for three months before returning to his original position. An investigation has been carried out, discovering that there was an interlocking guard at the top of the stirrer cavity, however, there was no protective device at the bottom. This allowed Mr Countinho to reach in with his hand, despite the fact that the machine was still running. HSE inspector Michelle Morrison said: “The company has since installed a new guard to prevent a recurrence, but it is a pity a man had to suffer a painful injury for that to happen.

If you have sustained an injury at work, and would like to speak to one of our lawyers, please contact us. 


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