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Written by
on 26 April 2011


5 Pet Food Plant Workers Suffer Burns

The pet food giant firm have been fined £50,000 for breaching Health and Safety regulations after an accident which ended in five of their employees severely burned.  The five men employed by Nestle Purina were working at the Wisbech plant when a steam pressure system malfunctioned.

High Pressure Food Processer Lost Control

The hydrostat which is a food processing machine released boiling water and steam at high pressure while the men tried to carry out maintenance work.  The five workers Mr Coe, Mr Mawby, Mr Newell, Mr Garner and Mr Naylor all suffered burns to their arms, hands and faces due to the uncontrolled release of scalding steam and water.  One of the men needed to undergo plastic surgery on his arm.

After the accident the Health and Safety Executive inspected the case.  They discovered that the hydrostat controls had been recently replaced before the incident occurred.  They also established that there had been insufficient risk assessments carried out after the new control systems were put in place.

Find For Breaches in Health and Safety

The pet care firm admitted the charges at Cambridge Crown Court where Nestle Purina Petcare limited where the company were formally fined £50,000.  In addition to the fine Cambridge Crown Court also issued a bill for £22, 634.15 in costs

The fine was for breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This section of the Act states that it is the duty of the employers to ensure the health and safety of their employees as far as is reasonably practical.  In addition to this the fine was for Purina breaching Regulation 13 of the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 as they had failed to make sure that the steam pressure machine the five employees were working on was safe.  It is the duty and responsibility for employers to make sure that modified or repaired pressure systems do not impair the operations of the device and does not cause any additional dangers.

Health and Safety Must Be Prioritised

Peter Burns, a HSE inspector spoke after the hearing at Cambridge Crown Court.  He said that this case had highlighted the need for companies to follow the strict regulations regarding the repairs or modifications which are made to high pressure systems.

These regulations are there to make sure accidents like the one that happened at the Purina site did not occur.  He stated that if Purina had followed the regulations the five men may not have been burned or harmed.  Mr Burns also said that health and safety oversight was necessary when planning or implementing new projects.

Follow the Regulations and Laws to Avoid Prosecution

The Health and Safety Executive are the regulators of health and safety in the workplace.  Their role is to make sure that codes of practice and regulations are followed to help prevent the death and injuries and poor health incurred from the workplace. Mr Burns said that the HSE will always prosecute companies who fail in following their obligations in health and safety.

If you would like to find out more about workplace health and safety contact our team of experts on 0800 1488 677 today.

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.