Belfast feed manufacturer fined £40K after worker loses hand in ‘unguarded’ machine

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/BrianAJackson
© GettyImages/BrianAJackson

Related tags health and safety John Thompson and Sons

Animal feed company, John Thompson and Sons Ltd, based in York Rd, Belfast, has been fined a total of £40K (US$49.2K) for health and safety at work violations.

The Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) successfully led the prosecution against the manufacturer.

The NI agency carried out an investigation following an incident at the feed firm on 21 December 2019 that resulted in an agency worker sustaining was it called ‘life changing’ injuries.

The worker was carrying out maintenance on a grain roller machine when his right hand was drawn into two counter-rotating rollers, according to the findings of the HSENI probe. The incident caused severe crush injuries to his hand which later had to be amputated above the wrist.

The company, one of Northern Ireland’s leading animal feed manufacturers, admitted the breaches at Belfast Crown Court in November last year; it was fined for the offences last month.

Good health and safety record 

Local media outlet, Belfast Live, reported that Judge Philip Gilpin, who imposed the fines, noted that John Thompson and Sons had a "good record" for health and safety procedures in the workplace and had since taken steps to "remedy the most unfortunate failures in its health and safety regime at the date of the accident."

Speaking after the court hearing, HSENI Inspector, Kiara Blackburn said:

“This serious incident could easily have been avoided. It is essential that safe systems of work are developed and implemented to ensure the safety of employees and other people working near dangerous parts of machinery.

"During any maintenance activity, machines must always be safely isolated from energy sources to prevent inadvertent start-up.”

Machinery guards can take several forms but where practicable, fixed enclosing guards should be used. In some cases, regular access to dangerous parts of machines may be required and other guard types such as interlocking guards may be more appropriate, according to the HSENI.

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