Bakery incident an “accident just waiting to happen”

July 13, 2012

Health and Safety Executive inspector David Cory has said that the accident at the Crantock Bakery in Cornwall in which a worker broke both forearms was “an accident just waiting to happen”.

The accident in the bakery, which is located in the Cornish town of Indian Queens, took place in December 2010, but the case has only just been heard at the Bodmin Magistrates Court, with the final verdict being that the bakery has been found guilty of infringing both the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.

The accident took place when the bakery cleaning worker, Ms Wioletta Drozdz, attempted to clean one of the rollers on the conveyor belt. Her cleaning implement slipped and her glove and hand got caught in the gap between the rollers. The result was that her forearm got trapped between the rollers and was crushed as the machinery was still running at the time.

The court heard that the machinery was supposed to have a fixed safety shield which protected workers from just such an accident taking place. The safety equipment had been removed more than a year before this particular accident had taken place and had not been replaced. Apparently, similar incidents, not nearly as serious although with some “near misses”, took place earlier in the year before the accident involving Ms Drozdz, but still the bakery had not acted to replace the safety shield.

The HSE also said that the worker had not been trained to use the machinery safely as was required by the Health and Safety Regulations, In fact the bakery was accused of providing “inadequate, inconsistent and confusing instructions”. Apparently some of the cleaning team only cleaned the rollers and associated machinery when it was stopped, while other cleaners were used to cleaning the equipment with it still running.

In Ms Drozdz’s case, the cleaning team supervisor had actually left the bakery a few hours before the accident took place, instructing Ms Drozdz to clean the rollers before he left.

The worker has since recovered somewhat from her injuries and is receiving physiotherapy for the injuries to her right forearm in particular, which was the one which received the worst effects. The bakery has supported Ms Drozdz’s physiotherapy and recovery efforts and has kept her job open at the company.

The bakery was fined a total of £29,000, with £15,000 of this amount going to pay for court costs.

The incident is another example of the importance of the current Health and Safety Regulations and the necessity for all workers to be protected by their employers from unsafe working conditions. If you have been injured at work due to an accident that was not your fault you have every right to claim compensation for your injuries.