Huhtamaki fined £7,000, ordered to pay £3,088 in costs for safety failings at its Gosport, England, disposable foodservice packaging facility; worker lost finger in unguarded chain on machine in 2013 incident

, January 31, 2014 (press release) – The UK division of a global packaging company has been fined for safety failings after a long-serving worker lost a finger in an unguarded chain on a machine.

The 54-year-old from Gosport, who does not want to be named, severed the first finger on his right hand to the bone in the incident at Huhtamaki UK Ltd in Gosport on 4 February last year. It was amputated the following day after surgeons were unable to save it.

Huhtamaki specialises in food and drink packaging and operates 60 manufacturing sites worldwide, including the Hampshire factory. The UK operation was prosecuted today (30 January) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found that more could and should have been done to make the machine safe.

Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard the injured worker, who has worked for the company for 34 years, was part of a two-man team feeding plastic sheets into the machine after a product change.

As he worked from the side of the machine to feed a sheet onto a chain that would draw it inside – described as a spiked bicycle chain – his finger was caught between the chain and a roller.

HSE identified that had the feeding line been properly guarded to prevent access to dangerous parts then the incident could have been avoided.

The court was told that Huhtamaki UK Ltd failed to fully assess and identify the risks posed by the lack of guarding, and take appropriate action.

Huhtamaki UK Ltd, of Rowner Road, Gosport, Hampshire, was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay £3,088 in costs after being found guilty of a single breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Russell Beckett said:

“Incidents of this kind are all too common in the manufacturing sector, and the onus is on employers to ensure appropriate guarding is in place at all times to protect workers.

“The company had a previously good health and safety record, but on this occasion it fell below the minimum legal standards for safety and an employee was badly injured as a result.

“The spiked feed chain was easily accessible from the side of the machine, and it was a dangerous moving part that posed a clear risk.”

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