Dorset Brewery Fined After Worker Lost Fingers

A Dorset brewery has been prosecuted and fined for safety breaches after an employee lost two fingers in unguarded machinery.

The 32 year-old worker, who does not wish to be named, was trying to clear a blockage in a grain dust extractor at the Hall and Woodhouse brewery in Blandford during a night shift on 27 August 2012.

He reached into the chute of the extractor to dislodge the build-up, but his right hand made contact with the rotary valve, which was still running. His middle and index fingers were severed.

He has had to five operations and was only recently able to return to work full time.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which on 8 July prosecuted Hall & Woodhouse Ltd at Bournemouth Magistrates' Court for a breach of safety legislation.

The court was told that the company had re-located the grain dust extractor from its old brewhouse, where it had been outside the building. In its new location, the operatives had been tasked with emptying it when necessary.

HSE found Hall and Woodhouse had failed to identify the risks associated with the grain dust extractor in its new location. It was foreseeable that employees would try to deal with a blockage if one occurred and an alternative system should have been provided to prevent access by workers to dangerous moving parts.

Hall & Woodhouse Ltd. of The Brewery, Blandford St Mary, Dorset, was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Fiona Coffey said:

"An employee has suffered painful and needless injuries because of the failure by Hall & Woodhouse Ltd. to put simple safety measures in place.

"This was an incident that could have easily been prevented by carrying out a suitable assessment of the risks presented by the new location of the extractor. This would have identified the need for guarding to prevent access to the dangerous rotary valve within the chute.  

"The company should also have provided employees with information and instruction on how they wished potential blockages within the extractor to be dealt with. In the absence of these measures, an employee has suffered a serious injury."

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