A meat processing company has been fined £310,000 after two workers each lost a finger on the sausage line.
Darren Dunn, 37, and Ian Qua, 22, were both left scarred for life following the horrific accidents while working at the factory in Prestwick, Ayrshire.
Mr Qua was mixing meat for cocktail sausages while employed by Browns Manufacturing when he reached through a gap and got his hand entangled in the revolving mixer in January last year.
Mr Dunn was working on the Lorne sausage processing line at what was then the Hall’s of Scotland factory when he lost the tip of his right-hand ring finger in August 2016. He had been trying to clear a blockage by pushing meat into the mincer when a rotating screw caught his digit.
Hall’s of Scotland/Browns Manufacturing Limited pleaded guilty at Hamilton Sheriff Court on Friday to failing to ensure the dangerous parts of the machinery were inaccessible and not providing training for their staff.
Sheriff Douglas Brown fined the company £120,000 for the 2016 incident and £190,000 for the 2019 incident.
He said: ‘Both of these machines were capable of inflicting serious injury on any employee putting their hand near to them.
‘It was submitted that both were isolated incidents but the fact that there was a second incident after the first must raise questions about health and safety practices.
‘Both of these accidents were entirely avoidable had a safety guard been in place.’
In both cases, the workers were not given sufficient training and safety measures were not in place.
The company has since made changes to both machines and updated its training procedures.
Depute fiscal Paula Russell said Mr Qua was hurt while ‘discharging the sausage meat’.
She told the court: ‘He was standing facing the operator’s panel using the two-handed controls to open the discharge door and transfer meat.
‘He reached round to the right-hand side of the control panel towards the discharge door of the blender with his right arm.
‘Due to the gap created when the discharge door was open, his fingers met with the revolving paddles of the blender.
‘Mr Qua immediately removed his hand with the amputated finger remaining within the mixer and ran downstairs to the supervisor’s office.
‘Due to shock, he was unaware his finger had been amputated.’
He had to have physiotherapy and counselling for persistent nightmares after the incident.
Ms Russell told the court Mr Dunn was injured after taking over from a colleague who left his position to deal with something else.
She said: ‘He was advised to start the line when the buzzer sounded and did so.
‘Shortly after, he noticed that the meat was not processing through the line properly and that meat had begun to pile up suggesting a blockage in the mincing screw.
‘He lifted the lid in the mincing screw and attempted to clear the blockage with his hands while the machine was still running.
‘His hand came into contact with the rotating screw and he lost his right-hand ring finger.’
Defending both companies, Barry Smith said: ‘The most important thing to say is that all those associated with both Halls and Browns Manufacturing wish to record serious regret that these accidents occurred and gave rise to injuries to two valued employees.
‘Safety measures were in place but these were not sufficient. These breaches clearly disclose deficiencies of the guarding and steps were immediately put in place to address the breaches that had been brought to light.
‘Lessons have been learned and they take the health and safety of employees very seriously and regret these breaches.’
Alistair Duncan, head of the health and safety investigation unit, said in a statement: ‘Both of these workers were left permanently disfigured by incidents that were foreseeable and easily avoided.
‘Since these incidents, the company has installed guards and interlocks on these machines, as well as improved their training.
‘Hopefully this prosecution and the sentence will remind employers that failure to fulfil their obligations can have serious consequences.’
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