Lowestoft man injured in factory accident

A poultry-processing company was ordered to pay more than �250,000 in fines and costs after admitting health and safety breaches that left two workers injured.

The two offences relate to incidents at the 2 Sisters Food Group Ltd's factory in Grange Road, Flixton, near Bungay. Following the first accident Shaun Alexander, 42, of Kessingland, had to have most of his right hand amputated, and in the second Malcolm Raven, 54, from Lowestoft, was left with a broken arm.

Delivering a written judgement at Norwich Crown Court Judge Peter Jacobs said: 'In both cases the injuries occurred because employees were allowed to come into contact with moving machinery in circumstances that plainly should not have happened.'

He said matters were further aggravated by 2 Sisters Food Group – which is based in West Bromwich – having a previous conviction because an employee at the company's Stowmarket factory was injured when their hand became trapped in a veal processing machine.

In relation to the Flixton factory, Judge Jacobs fined 2 Sisters Food Group �90,000 for the first incident and �140,000 for the second. He ordered the company to pay costs of �24,302.

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Earlier, Alison Pople prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive, said in December 2009 Mr Alexander's right hand was caught in the machinery of a chicken foot crusher while it was undergoing a cleaning process. He lost four fingers and part of his thumb. He is now working with 2 Sisters Food Group in a different role.

The second incident happened in January 2010 when Mr Raven's arm was broken after it was caught between crates containing chickens when he tried to deal with a blockage. He had to have six weeks off work and although he has returned to work he said in April last year he still had problems gripping and got pins and needles.

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Michael Hayton, for 2 Sisters Food Group, said the company had 30 sites nationwide and employed 17,000 people. He said the chicken feet crusher was no longer used and there was no chance of any repeat incident.

He added that Mr Alexander had been offered assistance with rehabi-litation. It was deeply unfortunate there was a second accident involving Mr Raven in a different plant of the processing plant. This happened as crates on the conveyor belt became blocked and his arm was crushed as he tried to remove the blockage. 2 Sisters Food Group has now brought in changes to ensure this will also not be repeated.

After the case HSE inspector Julie Jarvey said: 'Both these incidents were wholly avoidable.

'Shaun Alexander was failed by the company's lack of proper training, inadequate assessment of risks, absence of safe working practises and effective measures stopping access to dangerous equipment. He will have to live with the consequences of someone else's mistakes for the rest of his life.

'Malcolm Raven's injuries could have been much more serious.

'Similar failings were shown up in his case, made worse by the fact that he hadn't been properly trained for a task that was outside his normal working duties.

'HSE will not hesitate to take companies, big or small, to court and seek tough penalties when it finds them taking a lax attitude to their workers' safety.'

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