UK feed company penalized after pellet press incident

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/cnythzl
© GettyImages/cnythzl
UK feed manufacturer, Aylescott Feeds and Driers Ltd, has pleaded guilty to breaching the UK’s Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been fined £14,933 (US$19.4K).

The Devon based company was fined after an employee’s hand was crushed in a pellet press, leading to what the HSE described as “devastating, life-changing injuries.” 

hand-injury Hse UK
© Health and Safety Executive UK

Aylescott Feeds was also ordered to pay costs of £2,500.

The case

Exeter Magistrates’ Court heard that on February 10 2017, 39-year old employee, Ross Standen, was attempting to unblock a feed pellet press at the Devon manufacturing plant, which had been switched off, when the machine started up randomly.

His hand was caught in the machine, resulting in injuries to his thumb and tendons in his index finger. Following multiple operations, which included the removal of bone fragments and skin grafts from his leg, his thumb was amputated.

The employee, the court was told, has suffered from insomnia and Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following the incident.

HSE probe findings

An investigation by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safe, found that there was no lock off procedure or way to isolate the machine at the time of the incident.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector, Melissa Lai-Hung, said the injury was completely avoidable, and the risk should have been identified.

“Employers should make sure they properly assess and apply effective control measures to minimise the risk from dangerous parts of machinery. If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life changing injuries sustained by Mr Standen could have been prevented​.”

Causes of injury in the grain, flour milling and animal feed industries 

According to the HSE, the main causes of injury in the grain, flour milling and animal feed sectors include:

  • Manual handling and lifting - especially sacks
  • Falls from height - off ladders, stairs and vehicles
  • Slips and trips - more prominent than usual due to obstructions and uneven floors
  • Exposure to harmful substances, such as chlorine, hydrochloric acid, sulphur dioxide
  • Machinery - screw conveyors, rotary valves, roller mills, mixers - mostly during maintenance, cleaning, and refilling
  • Entry into silos - risk from engulfment, lack of respirable atmosphere, mechanical hazards such as sweep augers
  • Transport - including lift trucks and trailers when tipping

In those sectors, the HSE said the main occupational ill health risks include

  • Musculoskeletal injury from manual handling - of sacks, bags and equipment
  • Work-related upper limb disorders (WRULDs) from repetitive packing operations
  • Occupational asthma from exposure to grain and flour dust
  • Noise induced hearing loss from noisy areas, inluding mill areas, grinders, seed graders, hammer mills, bagging lines

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