An 18-year-old employee of LDA Meats Limited suffered a life-altering injury after severing three fingers and partially cutting a fourth in an accident involving inadequately guarded machinery. The incident took place on 18 July 2020 at Lyndon Business Park, Lower Road Trading Estate, Ledbury.
The man was operating a grinding machine to mince lamb when he slipped on a wet floor. In an effort to steady himself, he extended his hand, which unfortunately entered the machine. His hand came into contact with a rotating worm thread inside the machine, resulting in the loss of his fingers.
A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that the machinery had not been properly assessed for risks. Specifically, it was found that hazardous parts of the machine had not been identified, nor were there adequate control measures in place to prevent access to its dangerous components. The investigation also noted that the machine was not subjected to regular guard checks. An issue with the machine's safety cut-out device within its lid had gone undetected, allowing the machine to operate with the lid open and thereby exposing users to hazardous rotating parts.
At a hearing on 26 September, LDA Meats Limited, headquartered at St Ethelbert House, Ryelands Street, Hereford, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regs 1998. Alongside the £8,000 fine, the company was ordered to pay additional costs amounting to £2,339.80.
Seren Linton, HSE inspector, commented on the case: "This incident could so easily have been avoided – instead a teenage worker was permanently disfigured at the very start of his working life. Employers should make sure they properly assess and apply effective control measures to minimise the risks from dangerous parts of machinery."
The prosecution was backed by HSE enforcement lawyer Jon Mack and paralegal officer Helen Jacob. HSE serves as Britain's national regulator for workplace health and safety, aiming to prevent work-related death, injury, and ill health. The agency conducts a range of activities, from influencing behaviours across entire industry sectors to targeted interventions on individual businesses, all backed by globally recognised scientific expertise.