Chicken firm fined after worker skins own hand

A CHICKEN company has been fined for flouting health and safety laws after a worker using a carcass ‘de-skinning’ machine tore the skin off the back of his own hand.

The employee was working at Crown Chicken Ltd near Diss, using the machine to skin the chickens when his glove became caught and his hand was pulled onto the cutting blade.

Thetford Magistrates Court heard today the skin on the back of his hand, from his knuckles to his wrist, was completely torn away from the underlying tissue after the incident, which happened on July 24 last year.

Crown Chicken Ltd, which processes 365,000 chickens a week at its site on the Suffolk/Norfolk border, pleaded guilty to four breaches of health and safety law, including another separate incident five months later where a second worker’s hand was crushed.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the first incident found the machine did not have adequate guards, there was no emergency stop button, and the gloves were not suitably protective.

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Then on December 7, 2009 another employee severed a finger when his hand was crushed by the lifting mechanism of a forklift truck when he was standing on the forks to access the back of a trailer.

HSE and manufacturer guidance warns it is unsafe to stand on the forks of a forklift truck but the company had not provided a safe way for workers to access the back of the trailers.

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HSE inspector, Saffron Turnell, said: “These two incidents resulted in very serious and painful injuries to both men. What is more, both could easily have been avoided if Crown Chicken had taken the correct health and safety precautions.

“The company failed to ensure that simple measures were in place to protect employees using the de-skinning machine.

“Similarly, the company had no safe method for staff to access the refrigerated trailers.

“Employers must ensure that appropriate health and safety measures are in place and that appropriate equipment is used. HSE will not hesitate to take action against employers failing to comply with the law and putting workers at risk.”

Crown Chicken Ltd, of Crown Farm, Weybread, Diss, admitted two breaches of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 – one breach in relation to each incident.

Magistrates fined the firm �4,000 for each charge, �8,000 in total, and ordered it to pay �5,500 in costs.

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