October 21, 2021 10.10 am This story is over 25 months old

Lincolnshire food firm fined £130k after cooking machine crushes worker

The company said it takes health and safety ‘extremely seriously’

Lincolnshire-based food manufacturer Bakkovor Fresh Cook Ltd has been fined £130,000 after an employee was crushed in an industrial cooking machine.

The employee sustained two broken ribs while working to clear a blocked water inlet on June 27, 2018.

The worker was crushed in the machine after its safety systems were over-ridden. The machine was worked on while it was live, but it should have been isolated before work on it began.

Bakkavor Fresh Cook Ltd, of Sluice Road in Holbeach St Marks, Spalding, pleaded guilty to one breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The firm said it was an isolated incident, but was fined £130,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,607.10.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the task was carried out by employees in this fashion on a regular basis and that the company should have been aware.

No risk assessment of the task had been completed and employees had not been provided with a safe system of work to carry it out.

It was found the lack of a system of work for the task, and the company’s failure to monitor how the work was done, caused employees to devise their own way of conducting the procedure. This included over-riding the safety systems and using unsafe working practices.

At the end of the trial, HSE inspector Tim Nicholson said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers.

“If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to this incident, alongside good monitoring of the way the work was done, the injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”

In a statement to The Lincolnite, Bakkavor said: “We very much regret that one of our employees was injured at work in an accident that took place on June 27, 2018.

“As a major food producer, we take the health and safety of our colleagues extremely seriously and always seek to achieve the highest possible standards of health and safety.

“We took prompt and effective steps to respond to the incident and cooperated fully with the HSE’s investigation.

“This was an isolated incident in a site with an excellent record of health and safety; the employee recovered and continues to work in our business.”