A COMPANY making health products has been fined after a worker’s finger was severed in a blending machine at its factory near Bridlington.
The employee had been using a ribbon blender to mix ingredients, unaware that a fixed guard underneath the machine had been removed along with a valve that needed a new part.
Bee Health Ltd, which manufactures health and nutrition products and owns several high profile brands, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after its investigation into the incident at Carnaby Industrial Estate in March 2010.
Bridlington Magistrates’ Court heard last Thursday that another worker had taken the valve off the blender to clean, but found it needed a new part so did not re-attach it.
While the part was on order, the blender continued to be operated but with a plastic bag to collect the product.
Several days later, a third employee was using the blender but was unaware of the missing guard and as he attempted to make a hole in a plastic bag, his fingers were caught in rotating blades.
The index finger of his right hand was amputated and he suffered severe cuts and nerve damage to the middle finger.
Bee Health, registered at George Street, Wakefield, pleaded guilty to two safety breaches brought by HSE.
They were fined a total of £7,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,887.65.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Denise Fotherham, said: “The company didn’t look at the risks involved with operating the blender.
“As a result, no one knew the valve should not be removed, not even the regular machine operator.
“He took it off to clean it as he just saw it as part of his job.
“Workers did not realise the valve formed part of the essential guarding of the machine.
“Bee Health also took no steps to prevent the machine being used if the valve was taken off, such as an interlock.
“A simple measure like that and adequate instructions for employees would have meant a worker not suffering this debilitating injury.”
Speaking exclusively to the Free Press, Steve Ryan, managing director of Bee Health said: “Whilst we obviously regret what happened, I feel the prosecution was unnecessary.
“We had an independent health and safety review by an external consultant before the accident, who gave all of our 88 machines in the factory a clean bill of health.
“We must be one of the few companies in Bridlington to employ our own full-time health and safety officer.
“This is the first incident we have had in 20 years.”
Bee Health opened its Carnaby Industrial Estate premises in 2001.
It is one of the UKs leading companies and manufactures and packs a wide range of its own well-known brand names of healthcare and personal care products including tablets, capsules, liquids, powders, creams, gels, sprays and more.
It also manufactures private label products for customers in Europe, Asia and the USA.