Young’s fined £787,500 for safety breach

BRITAIN’S largest seafood company has been fined more than three quarters of a million pounds after a worker was trapped by a mixing machine at one of its Grimsby sites.

Young’s, a major supplier of salmon and whitefish to retail and foodservice, pleaded guilty at Grimsby Crown Court to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £787,500 and ordered to pay £33,443.68 in costs.

The court heard the 59-year-old worker was creating the mix for fish cakes at the company’s Humberstone Road factory in Grimsby.

At the end of a mix run he went to clear the mix from the machine, lifting an interlocked guard that should have stopped the machine from running. He put his hand into the machine without realising it was still running and the augur caught his hand and drew his arm in up to the elbow.

The worker managed to free himself from the augur but in removing his arm, his thumb and two of his fingers were severed and he suffered serious tendon damage. Following the incident doctors were unable to reattach his fingers and he has not yet been able to return to work.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said in a statement it found that the machine continued to run when the safety guard was lifted and failed to respond when the emergency stop was pressed.

The interlocking system was inadequate, and the company had failed to ensure that the machine was effectively maintained. These matters were exacerbated by poor communication between the shop floor and maintenance and an inadequate fault reporting system.

HSE inspector Carol Downes said later: “The life changing injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented and the risk should have been identified.

“Being pro-active with preventative maintenance and good communication of faults can reduce the chance of harm.”

A Young’s spokesperson said: “Young’s Seafood accepts the fine imposed by the court following the Health and Safety Executive’s investigation, which we cooperated with fully. Mr Spence has been a valued member of the Young’s family for 25 years and continues to work with us today.  

 “We thank the court for its favourable comments about our positive health and safety record, our lack of previous convictions and our proactivity as a responsible employer to put effective health and safety measures in place to avoid incidents like this happening again in the future.”

Young’ employs around 3,000 people in both Grimsby and Scotland.

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