Grain milling firm fined after worker’s fingertips severed

Genteel Associates Ltd, Wellingborough.
Genteel Associates Ltd, Wellingborough.

A Wellingborough grain firm has been fined after an employee lost three fingers and a thumb on the blades of a running mixer.

Roman Banach, 49, who lives in Wellingborough, was reaching into the chute of a mixer at Genteel Associates Limited in Wellingborough on 16 August 2011 when he touched unguarded blades and severed all but one finger on his right hand up to the first joint.

He still experiences pain and has been unable to return to work.

Wellingborough Magistrates’ Court heard today (March 26) that Genteel Associates failed to adequately guard the mixer to restrict access to dangerous moving parts.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also identified guarding problems with two other machines, which resulted in Prohibition Notices being served on all three to place them out of bounds until they were made safe.

HSE also served four Improvement Notices.

The first was because the company had no system of checking that guards were in place. The second required them to get competent health and safety advice.

The third was because employees were not being protected from the risks arising from grain dust, which is a known to induce asthma.

A final Notice was because they were not protecting employees from the risks of noise in the workplace.

Genteel Associates Limited, based at Lloyd Close, Finedon Road Industrial Estate, Wellingborough, was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay £12,776 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Elizabeth Hornsby said: “Health and safety isn’t about paperwork, it is about recognising and controlling very real risks - whatever the size of your company.

“Genteel Associates has now taken the necessary action to comply with all the Notices served on them, and has improved standards as a result.

“However, it took a serious incident and an extremely painful injury to an employee for the company to start identifying and controlling the risks in their business. Had this happened sooner, the incident could have been avoided.”