Brighton UK - firm fined after meat mincer injury

18 February 2011

A Brighton meat processing company has been fined after a 16-year-old trainee severely injured his arm in a meat mincer.

The teenager's employer, Malpass Direct Ltd was prosecuted by The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for not properly supervising him at its Brighton Meat Market premises.

The meat mincer which caused the trainee's injuriesto the right.

Brighton Magistrates' Court heard that the trainee (who asked not to be named) was working alone in the meat processing room on 12 August 2009. While using the mincer to make sausage mix, the machine jammed. The trainee lifted the hopper lid to remove the blockage but his left arm became trapped between the feed paddles and the wall of the machine.

Though the trainee managed to free his arm, he suffered extensive bone damage and received significant muscle loss to his left forearm. His injuries required surgery and he has lost movement in two fingers. These injuries have since prevented him from undertaking a training course.

The HSE investigation found that due to staff absences there was no one on site to properly supervise the trainee. It also revealed the company regularly disabled the safety interlock on the mincer lid to allow sausage mix to be made. This was because ingredients needed to be poured into the mincer faster than was possible through the standard lid. The company received an additional fine for this offence.

HSE's inspector Graham Goodenough said:
"This incident was completely avoidable and has left a young man with permanent injuries. The level of supervision Malpass Direct Ltd offered in this instance was unacceptable and the company could have taken simple measures to prevent unsupervised use of the mincing machine by this trainee.

"Malpass Direct Ltd could also have easily modified the mincer so it could be used to make the sausage mix without overriding the interlock. The HSE will take robust enforcement action against any company found defeating safety interlocks."

Malpass Direct Ltd. of Brighton Meat Market, Hollingdean Road, Brighton, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1988. The firm was fined a total of £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,005.20.

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain's national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to prevent death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk[2]
  2. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees."
  3. Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states: "Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work."
  4. Information on risk assessments can be found at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/casestudies/index.htm