Multinational food conglomerate Nestlè has been fined £800,000 after a worker was injured in its Newcastle factory.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court in October this year.
Nestlè had previously been prosecuted for a similar incident at its Halifax factory.
The 25-year-old maintenance technician suffered life-changing injuries in late 2020 when his arm was drawn into a roller mechanism on a conveyor machine – part of the Rolo ® production line.
The employee was investigating an issue with the conveyor belt in the machine. When the incident occurred, he was underneath the machine when his sleeve caught in a roller. The technician’s arm was dragged into the machine, which trapped his arm between the roller and the belt.
What health and safety legislation was broken?
In October 2022, Nestlè plead guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
An investigation launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Nestlè had failed to carry out a proper risk assessment for the machine. The roller – the dangerous part of the machine – was not guarded, as it should have been.
HSE found that the company should have identified the risk posed by the roller. The court was told it was foreseeable that workers would need access to this area, and there was a clear risk associated with the roller which had a dangerous ‘nip point’.
Nestlè had also been prosecuted for a similar incident at its Halifax factory in 2021.
Nestlè and HSE response
A spokesperson for Nestlè said the company “accepts” that specific assessments on the roller had not been carried out and that it should have been guarded. They also said that since the incident, over £700,000 has been spent to improve safety at the Newcastle factory.
HSE inspector William Gilroy said: “This incident could easily have been avoided had Nestlè properly reviewed the safety measures at its plant and its equipment to ensure that access to dangerous parts was prevented.
“Nestle were aware of this risk following a similar incident at its Halifax plant but failed to take appropriate action.”
How to avoid a similar incident in your workplace
If Nestlè had carried out a thorough risk assessment and mitigated the risks, the incident would not have occurred.
To avoid a similar incident in your workplace, your employees should undergo regular training to carry out their work safely. Appropriate training courses include:
HCS Safety provides a range of health and safety training courses to help businesses keep their employees safe at work. View our courses here.