Meat processor fined after operator loses hand

Cranswick has been fined £14,000 after a worker lost his hand in a meat preparation machine.

James Hardcastle, 33, was trapped up to his elbow for ten minutes in a machine with two sets of rotating knives, a court heard.

He had to have his left hand amputated following the accident in December, 2009 at the Cranswick Convenience Foods site in Wombwell, South Yorkshire.

A machine was poorly guarded and a knife could be used to override a sensor, which meant it was quicker and easier to feed meat into the machine but the power supply was not cut off if an operator got near to dangerous moving parts.

Alison Crank, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), told Barnsley magistrates that: “A line supervisor put the knife across the sensor and asked Mr Hardcastle to feed meat into the machine. His arm was drawn in to the machine up to his elbow and he spent ten minutes trapped. This was not the first time a knife was put across the sensor.

“The supervisor lost his job and Mr Hardcastle suffered life-changing injuries with the loss of his hand.”

Three months later in another accident at the factory, Liam Hodgson lost the ends of two fingers on his right hand. He was feeding plastic film used for packaging meat into machinery when his fingers became trapped.

Richard Salvini, for the firm, said: "A safety switch was by-passed when the butcher’s knife was put on it. To work the machine inn that way was obviously dangerous.

"If the company had been aware this was taking place they would have acted on it immediately. The sensor should not have been able to be bypassed so easily."

Studleigh-Royd Ltd, the operating company, was fined a total of ££14,000 for the two offences and £8,387 costs after admitting two safety breaches.

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