Facing prosecution by the Health & Safety Executive

We acted on behalf of a food manufacturing company facing prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive

The case concerned an investigation and prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive following an incident at a food manufacturing factory whereby an employee’s hand and wrist became trapped whilst cleaning a machine. The employee’s hand was trapped for two hours and was only released once the fire brigade intervened. The employee required skin graft surgery following the incident. 

Our client was charged with two offences. The first being failing to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to health and safety of employees whilst using and cleaning the RINC pastry extruder. The HSE found that our client had failed to perform a risk assessment to assess the risks employees were exposed to whilst cleaning the machine. 

The second charge related to failing to ensure effective measures were taken to prevent access to the dangerous moving parts of the machine. The HSE found there was not a guard in place to prevent employees from accessing moving parts of the machine whilst cleaning. 

Based on the strength of the evidence, our client pleaded guilty to the charges at the earliest opportunity to ensure maximum credit was awarded at sentence.

At sentence, mitigation was put forward on our client’s behalf highlighting there were no aggravating factors present in the case, our client had undertaken significant steps to ensure there could not be a repeat of the incident and the fact our client’s precarious financial position meant a large fine would impede the company’s ability to continue trading. 

Based on the seriousness of the offence, the starting point for a fine within the sentencing guidelines would be £54,000 with an offence range of £30,000 to £110,000.  

In light of the defence submissions the judge reduced the fine to £20,000. A third credit for our client’s early guilty plea reduced the total fine to £13,333. Uniquely, the insured was ordered to pay the fine and HSE’s costs over six and a half years.

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Priscilla Addo-Quaye