A kebab manufacturing company in Essex has been heavily fined by the Chelmsford Crown Court after it was found that it had committed serious breaches of health and safety regulations which had led to substantial injuries to one of its employees.
Mr Ethem Torunoglu, 36, was working at Kismet Kebabs Limited at its factory in Latchingdon when the incident occurred on 9 February 2012.
Mr Toronoglu was cleaning a “derinding machine” on the day in question when he noticed some meat caught in the part of the machine known as the stripper comb. He tried to dislodge the piece of meat from the stripper comb with a pressure washer but, when this failed, decided to try and reach into the machine to dislodge the piece of meat. However, when he did so his hand was caught in the machine and trapped between the stripper comb and the serrated roller which was above it. Mr Toronoglu tried to free his hand but was unable and his hand was drawn through the machine. This resulted in serious injuries to his right hand, including the loss of the knuckles on his right hand, substantial damage to the tissue of his hand and a loss of flesh from his hand.
The worker was immediately taken to hospital and remained in hospital for 19 days. Three operations were undertaken on his hand and a further two since but he has been unable to return to work since the accident. It is not known whether he has or intends to claim personal injury against his employer.
An investigation was subsequently commenced into the accident by the Health and Safety Executive. This investigation found that there had been the following health and safety breaches by Kismet Kebabs Ltd:
- There was no interlock or tunnel guard to prevent body parts from being drawn into machinery
- There was poor training on the machines
- Employees had not been fully informed of the risks and dangers of the machinery
- Employees had not been fully trained in the steps that they should take to avoid the risk of injury
The HSE therefore recommended that a prosecution of the firm be undertaken.
The matter came before the Chelmsford Crown Court on 3 October 2013. Kismet Kebabs Ltd had pleaded guilty an at earlier hearing to two separate breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. They were therefore fined £17,500 and ordered to pay the prosecution’s costs of £7,500.
It does not appear that the firm or its criminal defence lawyers commented on the matter after the sentencing.
Chris Hadrill, a solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Employers have an obligation under health and safety legislation in the United Kingdom to take reasonably practicable steps to prevent any harm to the health, safety and welfare of their employees. The court found that the company had failed to comply with these obligations.”
HSE Inspector Julie Rayner said after the judgment: “The risks of in-running trap points – where there is a gap sufficient for something such as fingers or other body parts to be drawn in – are well known in the food manufacturing industry and Kismet Kebabs Ltd should have put in place suitable measures to prevent this type of injury from occurring.”
Redmans Solicitors are employment solicitors in Kingston and can help injured employees claim personal injury if there has been an accident at work