2 Sisters fined for H&S breaches

A major poultry processing company has been hit with fines totalling more than £250,000 after two employees were seriously injured in two separate industrial accidents.

2 Sisters Food Group admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act during a hearing before Norwich Crown Court.

In the first incident, in December 2009, Shaun Alexander, 42, night shift supervisor at the 2 Sisters plant at Flixton in Norfolk, lost his right hand when he became caught in machinery he was cleaning.

An investigation by Health and Safety inspectors found that a safety guard had been removed from the machinery.

A month later, at the same plant, fork lift driver Malcolm Raven, 54, entered a pre-slaughter enclosure to clear a blockage in the system when his arm became trapped and was broken.

An HSE investigation showed that a by-pass device to override a safety control had been fitted.

In mitigation it was said that 2 Sisters Food Group had 30 sites nationwide, employed 17,000 people and normally had an excellent safety record. It was added that safety precautions had now been upgraded so there could be no repeat of the incidents.

But, passing sentence, Judge Peter Jacobs said: “In both cases the injuries occurred because employees were allowed to come into contact with moving machinery in circumstances that plainly should not have happened.”

The company was fined £90,000 for the first incident and £140,000 for the second, as well as being ordered to pay costs of £24,302.

After the hearing, senior HSE Inspector Julie Jarvey said in a statement: “Both these incidents were wholly avoidable. Shaun Alexander was failed by the company’s lack of proper training, inadequate assessment of risks, absence of safe working practices and effective measures stopping access to dangerous equipment.

“He will have to live with the consequences of someone else’s mistakes for the rest of his life.

“Malcolm Raven’s injuries could have been much more serious. Similar failings were shown up in his case, made worse by the fact that he hadn’t been properly trained for a task that was outside his normal working duties.”


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