Amputation Costs Heinz UK $100K

The company was fined May 16 after an engineer lost his hand in a machine in its Nofolk, UK plant.

Food producer Heinz was fined the equivalent of $100,000 in U.S. funds for serious safety failings after an engineer had his hand amputated when it became trapped in unguarded machinery at its Norfolk plant. Alec Brackenbury, 49, from Bacton, Norfolk, was working on a potato peeling machine at the plant during the first day of a maintenance shutdown on June 20, 2013.

He tried to retrieve a dropped bolt and climbed down from the peeling machine, which was electrically isolated, to reach into the slurry pump below, which operated and severed his right hand. He has undergone eight operations so far and cannot drive, work, or carry out many day-to-day activities, according to HSE.

HSE said its investigation found that although the slurry pump appeared to be an integral part of the peeler, it was a separate machine with its own power supply and isolation point. Brackenbury was unaware of this and believed he had isolated the pump along with the peeler at the main distribution box.

"Alf Brackenbury suffered a horrific injury in an incident that was wholly avoidable. Maintenance activities on production machinery will invariably involve additional hazards beyond those present in normal operation," said HSE Inspector Tony Brookes. "Mr. Brackenbury was put at risk by Heinz Ltd's inadequate assessment of risks and lack of effective measures to stop access to dangerous parts of equipment. It is the duty of the employer to ensure their employees and contractors can carry out their work safely. Sadly, in this case, Heinz failed to protect Mr Brackenbury while he was contracted to carry out maintenance work at their Westwick plant and, as a result, he has suffered a life-changing injury."

For more information about safety in the food industry, visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/food/index.htm.

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