German yoghurt manufacturer Müller has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an employee severed several fingers in machinery.
On 12 July 2016, an agency worker was working as a box maker on a tray erector machine at the company’s Minsterley site in Shropshire.
But the in-running nip on the tray erector was not properly guarded and caught the employee's hand. They had to have their middle finger amputated below the second knuckle, lost half their index finger and had their third finger amputated to the first knuckle.
Walsall Magistrates’ Court was told that the company had failed to guard dangerous parts of the machine to prevent access for more than seven years.
The HSE told IOSH magazine that Müller failed to properly risk assess the tray erector for a number of years; because there wasn’t a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, the defendant was unaware of the risks created. No information, training or instruction was delivered to supervisors or persons working on the machine because the company was unaware of the risks.
In addition, Müller did not offer health and safety inductions or any safety information in relation to the tray erector. All training came from the supervisor, who did not receive any training in relation to the risk of entanglement on the outfeed of the machine. Neither the injured person or the supervisor appreciated the risk as Müller had not identified the risk to them.
HSE inspector Andrew Johnson said the incident could have easily been avoided had the company properly assessed and applied effective control measures to minimise the risks from dangerous parts of the machinery.
Müller UK and Ireland Group, which employs around 12,000 people and whose brands include Müller Corner, Müllerlight and Müller Rice, pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 11(1) of the Provision of Use of Work Equipment Regulations. The company, which has a turnover of
€6 billion, was fined £66,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5024.
The HSE confirmed to IOSH magazine that Müller took prompt steps to rectify the obvious failings post‐incident, including:
- The immediate installation of a tunnel guard to the out-feed of the tray erector
- Other such subsequent modifications so as to provide sufficient guarding
- All members of staff that use the tray erector have received relevant training
- Supervisors and other managers have also been trained.
In 2017, Müller was fined £400,000 after a worker was seriously injured when he fell 4.5m through an unmarked fragile roof panel.