Frozen food firm McCain has been fined £700,000 after a worker lost two fingers in an incident at one of its factories. In addition to the fine, the company was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £170 and costs of £6,508.51.
Tom Matthews, from Grantham in Lincolnshire, was cleaning batter machinery when his hand was drawn into a chute at the company’s Easton site. The 33-year-old said recovery from his injury had been an “ongoing struggle”, BBC reported.
McCain Foods Ltd admitted breaching a health and safety regulation at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (22).
A spokesperson for McCain said the firm took the health and safety of its staff “extremely seriously” and it had made improvements to machinery safety measures at its five sites.
The company, which has its UK head office in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, is best known for its frozen chips.
The court heard that Matthews had been working a night shift on 2 September 2019 when he attempted to remove a piece of string dangling from the chute. His left hand came into contact with the machine’s rotary valve and his index and middle fingers were later amputated.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the company had not provided an appropriate guard on the machinery and had not carried out an adequate risk assessment. The HSE also said staff had not had adequate training or supervision.
Matthews now works in a health and safety team at a different company.
“The last four years have been hard and an ongoing struggle both physically and mentally. I still have circulation problems in my left hand following the incident that should never have happened,” Matthews told BBC, adding that he wanted to use his story “as an example to others and make sure something like this doesn’t happen again”.
HSE inspector Muir Finlay said the incident “could so easily have been avoided had the company taken simple steps to guard dangerous parts of machinery and provide employees with suitable training and supervision”.
McCain Foods Ltd pleaded guilty to two offences of contravening a health and safety regulation.
A spokesperson for McCain said, “Since the incident in 2019, we have further enhanced our machinery safety measures, and across our six UK sites we have had zero employee safety incidents over the past 12 months.
“We sincerely regret this incident and extend our apologies to Tom Matthews and his family.”