Norfolk firms fined after man’s hand is crushed in machine

Two Norfolk companies have been fined after a cleaner's hand was crushed in a carrot processing machine.

Richard Beane was washing down the machine at Watton Produce Company's factory in Shropham near Attleborough late at night when the hosepipe he was using became trapped between two conveyor belts.

When he reached to retrieve it, his hand was pulled into the machine and crushed, ultimately leaving him with 45pc functionality in his left hand.

Watton Produce Company and SGA House Services, the company contracted to clean the machinery, appeared at Norwich Magistrates' Court yesterday where they both pleaded guilty to contravening health and safety regulations.

Magistrates ruled that Watton Produce Company was 'more to blame', ordering the company to pay a �6,000 fine and �7,401 in costs for failing to ensure that the correct fixed guards were installed on the machinery to protect staff.

SGA House Services, of Sovereign Way, Downham Market, was fined �2,000 and ordered to pay �2,467 in costs for not providing sufficient training and supervision for their employee.

The court heard that the machine, a high-level conveyor, had to be running to be hosed down and cleaned properly, but turned off to remove any vegetable debris. It should have been fitted with a permanent guard, but had not had one for several months.

Most Read

Following the accident, Mr Beane underwent a six-hour operation and significant skin grafts on his hand, which kept him out of work for nine months.

Anne Gray, for Watton Produce Company, said the company had not put profits before health and safety, but that there were 'discrepancies' in Mr Beane's account of how he sustained the injury.

She added: 'It was human error that the guard had been removed. The guards had constantly been damaged, bent or removed, it was thought, by the night cleaning staff.'

Steven Allard, managing director of SGA House Services, said he 'deeply regretted' the incident, which was the company's first involvement with the HSE in its 17 years of trading.

HSE inspector Paul Unwin said: 'Mr Beane suffered an awful injury to his left hand which left him unable to use it for months. This was debilitating and traumatic.

'A simple guard on the conveyor belt would have protected his hand from being dragged into the machinery along with some basic instruction and training in how to clean the equipment without being at risk.'

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter