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Fruit company failed to protect injured worker

05-05-2012

A horticultural business in Southampton has been prosecuted for safety failings after a worker injured his hand on an unguarded machine.

General labourer Edmund Skweres, 52, suffered a deep cut that required 11 stitches in the incident at A E Roberts (Fruitgrower & Nurseryman) Ltd., on Gravel Hill, Shirrell Heath, on 7 February last year.

Fareham Magistrates' Court heard today on 3 May that he was attempting to clear waste around the jaws of a root packing machine when his right hand was caught between a metal drive wheel and a guide rail.

The machine uses a hydraulic ram to push a moveable jaw against a fixed jaw to compress compost around the bare roots of plants. The drive wheel cut into his hand through his glove and lacerated the skin between his thumb and forefinger. He was off work for a month as a result of the injury.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified that guarding could and should have prevented access to dangerous moving parts on the root packer. A E Roberts operated five similar machines, each lacking guarding in this area.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 for guarding failures, and was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £2,000 in costs.

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