October 30 2014 Latest news:
Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY
Friday, July 25, 2014
A mushroom farming business was fined £12,000 for safety failings after a worker’s arm was crushed in unguarded machinery.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who brought the prosecution said the man “needlessly suffered terrible injuries.” The injured man was off sick for a year.
The HSE said that although the machine was properly marked, Littleport Mushroom Farm failed to follow this through with proper guards.
The employee was working on clearing compost out of growing tunnels when the incident happened on January 25.
Cambridge magistrates were told today (Thu) that the 31 year-old man from Thetford was rolling a net and polythene sheet – which lined the growing shelves – onto an emptying machine, when the sheet dropped away.
He attempted to tuck it back into the machine without stopping it but his left gloved hand became caught into the winding mechanism.
The machine continued to wind the net and sheet onto its roller, pulling the worker’s arm with it up to his shoulder. On hearing him shout, another employee ran to the machine and stopped it. He then used the reverse button to free the worker’s arm, which by then was crushed in several places.
The worker fractured his left forearm and his upper arm and was bruised on his chest and back.
The HSE later found the farm had failed to identify that the machine’s roller was unguarded when they bought it and had therefore not provided guarding for the dangerous part of the machine.
After the incident, the company fully enclosed the rotating part of the machine with fixed guarding fitted with a key exchange system.
Littleport Mushroom Farm, of Barway Road, Ely, was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,700 after pleading guilty to a health and safety breach.
After the case HSE Inspector Roxanne Barker said: “The risks associated with unguarded winches or rollers are well-known in many industries, including agriculture.
“Incidents involving this type of machinery can cause serious, life-changing injuries, which is why the onus is on employers to ensure that appropriate guards are in place to protect workers from dangerous moving parts.
“In this case, the worker needlessly suffered terrible injuries because, although the machine was CE marked, Littleport Mushroom Farm failed to comply with their duty to make sure that the machinery met the essential guarding requirements.”
He said the HSE was working with the manufacturers of this type of machine to establish improved guarding standards.
The state-of-the-art mushroom farm at Littleport Mushrooms began production in November 2012.
It consists of 12 growing tunnels and plans are in place to increase production fourfold.