Sweet factory fined £300k for machine death

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The UK’s largest confectionery firm has been fined a total of £300,000 after an employee was crushed to death in one of its sweet-making machines.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Tangerine Confectionery Limited, of Vicarage Lane, Blackpool, following the death of employee Martin Pejril at its Poole factory.

The company that manufactures sweets such as Sherbet Dip Dabs, Mojos, Black Jacks in addition to Butterkist popcorn appeared before Bournemouth Crown Court.

The court heard 33-year-old Mr Pejril, a Czech-born starch room operator, was clearing a blockage in one of the machines at Tangerine’s Alder Road plant in Poole, in February 2008.

He climbed into the machine but as the mechanism restarted he became trapped. Mr Pejril subsequently died of his injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The company was found guilty of breaches under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and of breaching Regulation 3 (1) (a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

The company was fined £150,000 for the HSWA charge and £150,000 for the regulations charge and ordered to pay full costs of £72,901.65.

Following the hearing, HSE inspector, Simon Jones, said:

“This tragic case highlights the need to ensure that machines are safely isolated before any maintenance takes place so it cannot unexpectedly start up. Simply pressing a stop button does not adequately isolate a machine.

“If the machine in this case had been properly isolated from the electrical power source before Mr Pejril attempted to clear the blockage, this accident would never have happened.

“A proper risk assessment would have highlighted the dangers of entrapment. All employees need to be adequately trained in correct company procedures – whether it’s for clearing blockages, operating machines or any other high risk activity.”

Additional Information

  1. Tangerine Confectionery Limited was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 whereby it: ‘failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the safety at work of their employees, including Martin Pejril, in that the method used to clear blocked trays in [a] sweet making machine was not safe, so far as was reasonably practicable……’.
  2. Tangerine Confectionery Limited was found guilty of breaching regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 whereby it: ‘failed to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the safety to their employees, including Martin Pejril, to which they were exposed whilst clearing blockages on [a] sweet making machine…..’.
  3. Further information about safe working practices when working with machinery can be found on the HSE website at: http://www.hse.co.uk


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