Health and Safety News

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Chocolate manufacturer fined for employee's fractured finger

chocolatesHigh street chocolate chain Thorntons has been fined after a worker broke her finger while operating a wrapping machine.

Ellen Yardley, 37, from Derbyshire was working at the company’s Somercotes plant on a foil wrapping machine, where chocolates were wrapped in foil and dispensed down a chute into a tray.   

During a short break in production, while the machine was still running, Ms Yardley attempted to clean the inside of the output chute which had become covered in caramel.  However, the cloth she was using became tangled in rotating parts which gripped the chocolates and her right hand was dragged into the machine.

Ms Yardley’s middle finger was fractured and cut, and she was off work for 10 weeks following the 17 November 2009 incident.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the machine had guarding installed but it was inadequate.  

A subsequent audit of other machines in the factory found safety improvements were necessary to a range of machines, including to prevent access to dangerous parts or repairs to existing safeguards.

Thorntons PLC, of Thornton Park, Somercotes, Derbyshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Yesterday, Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court fined the company £20,000 and ordered it to pay full costs of £7,680.


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