A sixteen-year-old worker lost one of his fingers while attempting to clear a blockage in a biscuit crumbing machine at a food production company based in the West Midlands. When he reached into the hopper of the machine, his hand was drawn into another machine designed to break up biscuits using a rotating screw blade.
His hand was severely injured and his middle finger was so badly damaged it had to be amputated. The subsequent investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive found that the accident was entirely avoidable. Both the hopper and the screw conveyor lacked the appropriate guards, despite the fact that the machine had been purchased years earlier.
It was also found that the risks of working with the machine had not been properly examined, and so the company was prosecuted for breaching Regulation 11 (1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company pleaded guilty and was fined seven thousand pounds, although it has since fitted the necessary guards to the machine. It will also have to pay costs of four thousand pounds.