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Heinz worker has hand sliced off by unguarded machine

Posted in: Employer Negligence Faulty Work Equipment Hand Injuries Workplace Injuries 

The food giant Heinz has been fined after an engineer had his hand sliced off by a potato-peeling machine. The worker suffered “life-changing injuries” in the accident that could easily have been avoided at the Heinz factory in Norfolk. 49-year-old Alec Brackenbury had been servicing the machine at the company’s Westwick plant in Worstead when the accident happened last June.

Mr Brackenbury is unable to work, drive or carry out many of his day-to-day duties as a result of the accident. The company received a fine of £50,000 at Norwich Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

Safety device was absent

The court heard that Mr Brackenbury had been working on the machine on the first day of a maintenance shutdown when he climbed down to receive a dropped bolt. Even though the peeling machine was shutdown electronically, when he put his hand down to collect the bolt the slurry-pump started and sliced through his wrist.

During a Health and Safety Executive investigation, it was found that the slurry pump was actually a separate machine, despite being an integral part of the peeler. It was also found that a safety device to prevent access to the pump was absent, which allowed the self-employed engineer to reach into it.

HSE inspector Tony Brookes said: “Sadly in this case Heinz failed to protect Mr Brackenbury while he was contracted to carry out maintenance work at their Westwick plant and, as a result, he has suffered a life-changing injury.

Heinz were ordered to pay costs of £9,661 in addition to the fine.

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