Food manufacturing giant Nestlè has been ordered to pay more than £800,000 after a worker’s arm was drawn into a roller mechanism on a conveyor machine.
On 30 November 2020, a maintenance technician was investigating a problem on the conveyor belt of a machine used to make chocolate sweets. When he went underneath the machine, he reached to steady himself and the sleeve of what he was wearing was caught in the roller above his head. This dragged his left arm into the roller and was trapped between the roller and the belt. He was unable to free his arm and he shouted for help. The 25-year-old sustained life-changing injuries.
Investigators from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had not properly assessed the risk created by the rollers under the conveyor belt and failed to guard the roller, which was a dangerous part due to it having a 'nip point'.
The food and drinks company failed to provide a safe system of work in relation to the maintenance of the Rolo Racetrack machine and failed to provide a guard which would have prevented access to dangerous parts of it.
South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court was told that it was foreseeable that employees would require access to this area and there was a clear risk of injury to employees coming into contact with this roller.
'This incident could easily have been avoided had Nestle properly reviewed the safety measures at its plant and its equipment to ensure that access to dangerous parts was prevented,' said HSE inspector William Gilroy. 'Nestlè was aware of this risk following a similar incident at its Halifax plant, but failed to take appropriate action.'
Last month, Nestlè UK admitted breaching regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations and was fined £800,000, plus costs of £7776.50.
A spokesperson for Nestlè said following the incident two years ago, the company – which had sales of $94 billion globally in 2021 – had accepted the machine should have been guarded and that more than £700,000 had since been spent at the Newcastle factory to make the site and machines safer. He said specific assessments on the roller were not done and Nestlé 'accepts that'.
In 2021, Nestlè was prosecuted following a similar incident at its Halifax factory.