Food Processing Injury: Firm Failed To Act On Risk Assessment


A newly-released court judgement highlights the need for companies to follow through when risk assessments highlight failings that need to be addressed.

At Tulip Ltd, the UK’s biggest pork products maker, a 60-year-old worker lost two fingers and damaged others, when he tried to stop a piece of plastic contaminating the product in a large mixing bowl. This was an understandable reaction on his part, and commendable from a product point of view, but disastrous in terms of his health and welfare.

It was revealed in court that the company had carried out a health and safety risk assessment 11 months earlier, but they failed to act on it. This mixer was unguarded, unlike other on the site that had electric locking gates at the top of their access stairs. With properly interlocked gates, the mixer’s paddles could not have turned as the worker was adding the seasoning ingredients.

A new locking step system would have cost less then £1,000 but the court case cost Tulip Ltd over £20,000 including costs, in addition of course to the worker’s loss of livelihood and trauma. He will probably need more surgery on his damaged fingers, he has had to give up cricket, has had to be put onto other duties at the firm and he finds simple tasks hard due to the loss of nerve endings and his loss of dexterity.

As the HSE inspector rightly commented, “this case shows that risk assessments are not just about producing pieces of paper. Employers have a duty to act on their findings”.

ulip is a big firm, but whatever size your operation is, you have a duty to produce risk assessments; and if you do not have the in-house skills or time, a firm of qualified Health and Safety consultants will do it for you. But more importantly, what sorts out the form-filling H&S operations from those who really add value to your business is whether they include the all-important follow-up monitoring and guidance as part of their service.

To avoid this sort of regrettable accident happening at your plant, call on McCormack Benson Health & Safety and their nationwide, industry-trained safety consultants who give you the necessary follow-through.

Tagged with: