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  3. Home brew company fined following employee's loss of hand

A drinks company based in Ellesmere Port has been fined following an incident that resulted in a worker losing his right hand.

A manufacturer of home brew kits was prosecuted following the incident, which took place in October 2014. Liverpool Magistrates' Court was told that a worker at SPL International Ltd was asked to clean the blending machine, known as the 'Ritchie blender'. The machine is a Kek Gardner cantilever mixer, which the employee had cleaned previously. The worker turned off the machine at the mains before cleaning, dried the blender's interior and switched the power back on at the mains. However, a while later, water was spotted leaking from the edge of the outlet hole beneath the machine. As he tried to dry the rim, the employee put his hand inside the access hole, making contact with the blades.

As there was no guard in place to prevent contact between his hand and the blades, his hand was severed from below his thumb and fingers. The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted the company, which pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, as it failed to provide a risk assessment of the hazards which may occur whilst cleaning the blender. The company received a fine of £8,000 along with costs of £7,004.

Health and safety inspector Jane Carroll said that it was a reminder that risk assessments and safe systems of work needed to be put in place. This may include protective workwear or PPE as required.

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