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Chocolate factory worker lost finger after safety breach

June 20 2013

A chocolate factory worker could be awarded personal injury compensation after his finger was severed by an inadequately guarded machine.

Kettering magistrates court was told Joao Countinho, was cleaning a depositor – a machine which pipes liquid chocolate into moulds – at Ashbury Chocolates Ltd when the incident happened.

He had removed the rotors and reached up to check the stirrer cavity was clean but the stirrers were still rotating.

His left index finger became trapped and was partially severed. It had to be fully amputated later in hospital.

Mr Countinho, 41, of Peterborough, was off work for around three months although he has since returned to the factory doing the same job.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the machine was only partially guarded as there was an interlocking guard at the top of the stirrer cavity but there was no protective device in place at the bottom, meaning Mr Countinho was able to reach in despite the fact the machine was running.

Ashbury Chocolates Ltd, of Darwin Road, Willowbrook Industrial Estate, Corby, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,485.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Michelle Morrison said: “This was a serious incident that could have easily been prevented.

“Ashbury Chocolates Limited had a duty to ensure its employees were protected from the dangerous moving parts of its machines. It failed in that duty. The company has since installed a new guard to prevent a recurrence but it is a pity a man had to suffer a painful injury for that to happen.”

If you have suffered personal injury, contact PM Law solicitors in Sheffield on 0114 2965444 or click here.