In December 2009 a factory worker from Lincolnshire lost two of his fingers in an accident involving an unguarded machine at work.

The man was employed by Tulip Ltd in Warwick who are the UK's biggest producer of pork products and had been adding seasoning to the bowl attached to the mixing machine when he noticed a piece of blue plastic in the bowl.  He reached into the bowl to remove the plastic and sustained the serious injury.

The 60 year old man needed several operations as a result of the accident and was off work for 10 months.  Although he is back at work now, he can't do the same job he was doing before due to his disability.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the machine which injured the worker was not guarded while other machines at the factory were.  If it had been fitted with the same safety features as the other machines, the paddles inside the bowl would have stopped turning when the worker approached to add the seasoning.  It was also discovered that Tulip Ltd had carried out a risk assessment on the machine 10 months before this accident and had identified the dangers of the machine having no guard but took no action to rectify the problem.

Guarding accidents remain far too common

Tulip Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and were fined £16,000 with costs to pay of £4.076.

HSE inspector Dr David Lefever said: “This incident has had a profound effect on the worker. Simple, everyday tasks such as tying shoelaces or doing up buttons have become difficult. He has also had to give up playing cricket for his local team and faces the prospect of further surgery to repair his damaged fingers”. He added: “This incident was entirely foreseeable and easily preventable”.

Peter Magee, a solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors’ Serious Injuries Team said: “Guarding accidents remain far too common. Often the cost of preventing the accident is minimal, but the effect on the victim is profound”.