Gosport firm fined after man’s finger is chopped off

The Huhtamaki factory in Grange Road, Gosport
The Huhtamaki factory in Grange Road, Gosport
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A FIRM that makes cups for Starbucks and McDonald’s has been fined £7,000 after a worker lost a finger in an industrial accident.

Huhtamaki UK was fined and ordered to pay £3,088 in costs at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court.

It comes after a 54-year-old worker severed his index finger on his right hand down to the bone on an unguarded chain at the factory, in Rowner Road, Gosport.

The man, who had been at the firm for 34 years, had to have his finger amputated by surgeons the day after the incident, which happened on February 4 last year.

They had tried to save it but were not able to do so.

Huhtamaki UK was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the machine could have been made safer.

It was found guilty of a single breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

The worker was part of a two-man team feeding plastic sheets into a machine after a product change.

It had a chain, similar to a spiked bicycle chain, which draws in the sheet.

The worker’s finger was caught between the chain and the roller.

In its investigation HSE identified that if the feeding line had been guarded then it would have stopped access to dangerous parts and the incident could have been avoided.

Speaking 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.’

The court heard that Huhtamaki UK failed to assess and identify the risks posed by the lack of guarding.

The man still works for the firm, which specialises in food and drink packaging and runs 60 manufacturing sites around the world.

The firm was unavailable for comment.