Blog - Accidents at Work

Man Loses Thumb Clearing Blockage from Potato Sorting Machine

A work accident resulted in a man losing his thumb in a potato sorting machine whilst attempting to clear a blockage.

Brian Griffiths was at work at crisps manufacturer Sirhowy Valley Foods when he suffered the injury in December 2011. At the work premises in Newport, he was working on a potato sorting machine.

When the machine became blocked, Mr Griffiths attempted to clear the blockage whilst the machine was still running. He was wearing gloves whilst he was doing this and the material on them caught on the rollers. This pulled his hand into the machine and his thumb was severed.

The accident was investigated by the HSE who found the official company policy of using a long-handled pole to clear blockages was not always followed due to the need to sort the problem quickly.

The HSE brought a prosecution against Sirhowy Valley Foods for breaking work equipment regulations. They stated that the man’s injury could have been easily avoided had the machine been guarded and a safe system of work put in place to clear blockages. The firm pleaded guilty and were fined £8,000 on Monday.

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