UFAC (UK) Ltd fined after Stamford worker loses arm at Rutland plant

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An animal feed company has been fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £1,633 costs after a worker from Stamford lost his arm when it was pulled into machinery in a Rutland plant.

Frederick Sharp, 71, known as Roy, had to have his right arm amputated after the incident at UFAC (UK) Ltd’s plant at Woolfox Lodge, near Stretton, on January 14, 2014.

Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday (Thursday) that Mr Sharp was adjusting a belt on a production line conveyor feeding a bagging point. He removed a guard to access the adjusting screw when his arm was drawn into the in-running nip between the belt and roller.

He suffered extensive injuries to his right arm, resulting in amputation to below the shoulder. His also suffered multiple fractures to his right hip and leg which required surgery to insert a pin and plate.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the company had failed to ensure measures were taken to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery.

The Executive had taken previous enforcement against UFAC (UK) Ltd for similar failings three years prior to the incident. In January 2011 the company was issued with a prohibition notice preventing access underneath a running conveyor because fixed guards were not in place to prevent the risk of being drawn into or trapped in moving machinery.

UFAC (UK) Ltd, which has its head office in Newmarket, Suffolk, was fined £8,000 with £1,633 costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Following the case, Health and Safety Executive Inspector Judith McNulty-Green said: “This was an entirely preventable incident. The dangers of nip points, or the gaps between a moving belt and a stationary part of a machine, are well-known.

“UFAC (UK) Ltd should have ensured guarding suitable for the maintenance of the machine was in place. It is important that companies recognise the need for and implement safe machinery guarding, not just for operator safety but also for safety during maintenance.

“UFAC (UK) Ltd had previously been warned specifically about the importance of guarding a conveyor and if they had applied the principles of effective guarding to other conveyors this incident could have been prevented.

“Instead, as a result of the company’s failings, Mr Sharp suffered serious life-changing injuries.”

UFAC (UK) Ltd managing director Robert Jones said he was “extremely sorry” about what happened to Mr Sharp.

“Roy had been with us for 28 years and was part of the family. It’s a family-owned business and we had a great relationship with him. Our feelings are with Roy.”

Mr Jones said lessons had been learned and the firm had taken on health and safety consultants to train staff.