A farming partnership has been fined £5,000 after a worker injured his arm in the machinery of a bird feeding line.
Luke Parker, 29, had been collecting eggs in one of the sheds at Cherry Gate Farm, Mendlesham, Suffolk, when he noticed one of the feed lines was blocked.
Ipswich Magistrates’ Court heard on Monday (11 February) that it was not unusual for the lines to block and the farmworkers knew how to get them running again.
They would remove the cover on a chamber at the end of the top line and scoop out feed to clear the sensor. That would activate the rotating mechanism that carried the feed along the lines and clear the blockage.
But as Mr Parker was scooping feed out of the chamber, the line powered up and caught the sleeve of his jumper on the rotating parts, pulling his hand and wrist under and around the machine.
The back of his right hand was badly cut, causing damage to the nerves and tendons of his arm. He still suffers a lot of pain from his injury and has restricted movement in the right wrist.
Mr Parker from Eye, Suffolk, was working as an egg collector for Green Label Farms LLP, which breeds and rears ducks, when the incident happened.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that there was no safe system of work in place for dealing with blocked feed lines nor was there any provision to ensure the secure locking off of the machinery to prevent it starting up inadvertently.
Green Labels Farm, of Loomswood Farm, Hasketon, Woodbridge, Suffolk, pleaded guilty to two offences breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. It was fined a total of £5,000 and ordered to pay £8,372 in costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Saffron Turnell said: “Mr Parker was lucky not to have been more seriously injured in what was an entirely preventable incident.
“The company should have had a safe system of work in place to handle blockages, which should have included isolating the power supply to the machinery before anyone put their hand inside the chamber where there were moving parts.
“A secure locking-off of the system would have also ensured the machinery could not start up once the chamber cover was removed.”