Heinz has been fined £50,000 for health and safety violations following an accident at a manufacturing plant during which one of its workers lost their hand.
In June 2013, Alec Brackenbury (49) of Bacton, Norfolk was working in a manufacturing plant owned by Heinz in Worstead, Norfolk. He was manning a potato peeling machine when he tried to retrieve a bolt that had fallen into a slurry pump. Alec believed that the electrical supply to the slurry pump was connected to the potato peeling machine and had been isolated. Therefore, he put his right hand into the unguarded machine. The machine suddenly started to operate, severing Alec’s hand at the wrist.
Alec was immediately transported to the local Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, where he received medical attention. Despite their efforts, the medical staff at the hospital were unable to save his hand. Alec had to undergo eight different operations on the stump of his hand over the two-week period following the accident. As a result of losing his hand, Alec is unable to work, drive or perform many daily tasks.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation into Alec’s accident. Inspectors discovered that a protective gate which should have been bolted to the top of the slurry pump was absent at the time of the accident. Had such a gate been in place, the accident would have been prevented and Alec would not have lost his hand.
The HSE inspectors prosecuted Heinz for their negligence and, at the Norwich Magistrates’ Court, the company was fined £50,000 for being guilty of breaching Regulation 11(1) o the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was also ordered to pay £9,661 in costs.
The HSE Inspector involved with the case-Tony Brooks-stated: “Heinz failed to protect Mr Brackenbury while he was contracted to carry out maintenance work at their Westwick plant and, as a result, he has suffered a life-changing injury. Heinz failed to protect Mr Brackenbury while he was contracted to carry out maintenance work at their Westwick plant and, as a result, he has suffered a life-changing injury.”