£800k fine for pizza producer after two workers suffer serious injuries

  • Accidents
Accidents at work
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

Two separate incidents at Stateside Foods Limited in 2020 have seen the major supermarket supplier hit with a £800,000 fine. Both incidents involved workers suffering serious injuries due to getting caught in machinery.

The incidents occurred at Stateside Foods Limited, which produces millions of pizzas supplied to major UK supermarkets. Bolton Crown Court heard how the company’s Westhoughton site had inadequate guarding on its conveyor belt.

This led to the first incident on 8 January 2020, where a man had his arm drawn into the belt, resulting in removal of muscle and a skin graft operation. The man has been unable to return to work, diagnosed with hypersensitivity in his affected arm.

Nine months later, a second incident occurred on the night shift of 14 October. Andrew Holloway, a father of two, had part of his middle figure severed when his hand was drawn between a roller and a conveyor belt. Mr Holloway spoke of the incident:

“My right hand was drawn into the roller on the machine and when I pulled my hand out my fingers were hanging off,” he said.

“I was taken to hospital and was in and out of consciousness due to the shock and pain I was suffering.

“The pain was unbearable after the initial shock wore off; I have never experienced pain this bad in my life before.

“After I woke from the first operation, the surgeon informed me that he could not save my middle finger and had to remove the top section. They managed to save my ring finger by inserting a wire into it.”

A second operation followed to remove more of Mr Holloway’s middle finger, as the tissue had not healed properly.

“I was unable to care for my three-year-old son after the accident as I couldn’t even get myself dressed let alone a three-year-old,” he added.

“I suffer with pain every day due to the accident; my fingers are stiff and very sensitive; every winter is unbearable due to the cold.

“My favourite hobby used to be Art, which I really enjoyed, but I cannot do this for more than five minutes now. Even simple things, like holding a knife and fork when eating can be difficult.

“This has been the worst period of my life by far, not only have I suffered but so have my family.”

Mr Holloway returned to work after a six-month absence, but he left after just a couple of days. He has had to start his career over again, unable to continue in his previous role.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Stateside Foods Limited had allowed the guarding systems on the conveyor belts to be disabled. A lack of suitable and sufficient checks had meant this went unnoticed, even after the first incident in January.

At Bolton Crown Court, Stateside Foods Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) and 3 (1), of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act. The company was fined £800,000 and ordered to pay £5,340 costs.

Following the hearing on 15 March 2024, HSE Inspector Leanne Ratcliffe said: “This is one of the country’s major food companies.

“The injuries sustained by both of these workers has been truly life changing.

“This case should send a message to industry about how important it is understand the risks of bypassing guarding arrangements, and to re-evaluate their own guarding arrangements and procedures to eliminate any access to dangerous parts of machinery.

“We will always be prepared to take action when companies fall short of their duties and responsibilities to protect their staff.”

Visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like How can I prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery?

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