Accident at work leads to fine for chocolate manufacturer

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Following an accident at work in which a worker operating a wrapping machine sustained a finger injury, the high street chocolate chain Thorntons has been fined.

In November 2009 Ellen Yardley, from Derbyshire, was working at the company's Somercotes factory on a machine which wraps chocolates in foil and dispenses them into a tray via a chute.

Ms Yardley was cleaning excess caramel from the inside of the output chute with the machine still running during a short production break. However, her right hand was dragged into the machine when her cloth became tangled in the rotating parts which gripped the chocolates.

After Ms Yardley's middle finger was fractured and cut, the 37-year-old needed 10 weeks off work.

Although the machine had guarding installed it was inadequate, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found. A later audit in the factory found a range of other machines required safety improvements, including measures to prevent access to dangerous parts or repairs to existing safeguards.

Thorntons PLC pleaded guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

The company was fined £20,000 by Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court and ordered to pay full costs of £7,680.

After the hearing HSE inspector Stuart Parry said that Thorntons should not have allowed the machinery guarding to fall below legal safety standards. "It was effectively asking its employees to work on machines that put them at risk of injury."

"It was entirely foreseeable that the inadequate guarding could lead to injury and even if Ms Yardley had not used a cloth, her hand could still have been drawn into the machine while cleaning it."

"If the company had carried out an adequate risk assessment of its machinery, its workers would not have been put at risk and in Ms Yardley's case painfully injured."



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