A worker at a Berkshire factory has suffered a debilitating hand injury as a result of safety failings by his employers. Merseyside-based English Provender Company Limited was sentenced at Reading Magistrates’ Court and ordered to pay £15,000 for each breach of health and safety regulations.

The employee’s finger was broken and lacerated in the accident, which required two pins to be inserted to stabilise it. The injury has left him unable to straighten the finger despite extensive physiotherapy. The worker has since returned to employment with another company. His hand injury does, however, continue to affect him.

The accident happened as the worker was unblocking a sugar dispenser. The sugar rushed out once the blockage was removed, triggering a valve which clamped shut on his finger. HSE Inspector Leon Donovan said that the incident “could have been avoided if the company had fitted a simple inexpensive fixed guard to prevent access to a dangerous automatic sliding sluice valve.”

A proper risk assessment had not been performed to identify the dangers of the automatic valve, which caused the employee’s hand injury. We hope that this will lead to more thorough safety procedures and ensure that this particular accident is not allowed to happen again.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching both the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.