VP Packaging has been ordered to pay more than £21,000 by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) after an employee lost part of her finger while working on a machine.
On 11 January this year, the employee was cleaning a rotating roller on a padded envelope production line at the Germany-headquartered packaging group’s UK site in Kettering. A cloth she was using became caught and her hand was drawn into the rollers.
The woman suffered an amputation to her right-hand middle finger, two further fractured fingers and some degloving of the skin. The injury was found to have occurred because the rollers were not adequately guarded to prevent access to dangerous parts of the machinery.
VP Packaging pleaded guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £20,000 by Northampton Magistrates’ Court on Thursday (29 November), as well as being ordered to pay legal costs of £1,346.60 and a victim surcharge of £170.
HSE inspector Michelle Morrison said “This injury could have been easily prevented, and the risk should have been identified.
“Employers should make sure they properly assess and apply effective control measures like suitable guards, to minimise the risk from dangerous parts of machinery.”
According to directors at VP Packaging, the firm was commended by the judge for pleading guilty immediately and having a previously clean record.
The firm has promised to bring in an external company to audit the safety of its operation, and its insurance company will follow up to confirm that the improvements had been made.
Speaking to PrintWeek, the directors said: “It is a pity what has happened, and we are absolutely sorry about what happened to one of our long-standing employees.
“We have made significant improvements to our systems and processes since the incident and everything has been found to be up-to-date and state-of-the-art. We have a good feeling that we are prepared for the future and are sure that an incident like this will not happen again.
“An incident like this has significant implications for any company, but you get through everything and make sure it is all updated. In regard to the operation of our company, this does not change anything about our future plans.”
VP Packaging’s international sales network includes five production sites across Germany, Poland, the UK and the Netherlands. Its Kettering site is predominantly focused on packaging manufacture, though it does house a one-colour flexographic press.