Used machinery firm fined after bacon press mishap

An engineer’s arm was badly crushed when a bacon press he was reconditioning started up as he worked on it, a court has heard.

Orbital Foods, which buys and sells used food processing machinery, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive for failing to prevent the incident at its Suffolk premises last March.

Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court heard that Rui Sousa, 46, an experienced engineer, was working on the machine with the air and power supply still connected having over-ridden a safety feature.

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Mr Sousa suffered a fracture, severe lacerations and crush injuries when the press closed on his left arm, as a result of which he was off work for four months.

An HSE investigation found that no risk assessment had been carried out on the machine and no safe system of work was provided for engineers.

The court was told that a previous HSE inspection in 2006 also identified issues with Orbital Foods not doing enough to risk assess the often dangerous condition of machines they received for reconditioning, or to operate a safe system of work.

The company improved its practices in response to the 2006 inspection, but they had again lapsed in relation to Mr Sousa’s preventable injury.

Orbital Foods was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £2,634 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

“Employers have a responsibility to provide systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health,” said HSE inspector Anthony Brookes. "In this case the company had received previous warnings and enforcement from HSE which, had they heeded, would have prevented the serious and painful injury Mr Sousa had to endure."

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