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Chocolate fingers anyone?
A Northamptonshire chocolate maker has been fined after an employee's finger was severed in an inadequately guarded machine he was cleaning.
Kettering magistrates heard that Joao Countinho, was cleaning a depositor - a machine which pipes liquid chocolate into moulds - at Ashbury Chocolates. He had removed the rotors and reached up to check the stirrer cavity was clean but the stirrers were still rotating. His left index finger became trapped and was partially severed. It had to be fully amputated later in hospital.
Mr Countinho, 41, of Peterborough, was off work for around three months - although he has since returned to the factory doing the same job.
A Health & Safety Executive investigation found the machine was only partially guarded as there was an interlocking guard at the top of the stirrer cavity but there was no protective device in place at the bottom, meaning Mr Countinho was able to reach in despite the fact the machine was running.
Ashbury Chocolates, , pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,485.
Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Michelle Morrison said:
"This was a serious incident that could have easily been prevented. Ashbury Chocolates had a duty to ensure its employees were protected from the dangerous moving parts of its machines. It failed in that duty. The company has since installed a new guard to prevent a recurrence but it is a pity a man had to suffer a painful injury for that to happen."
Information on using and maintaining machinery is available at:
27th June 2013