A case involving an incident which scalded five workers in 2006 at the Nestle Purina food processing plant in Wisbech received its verdict recently with the Cambridge Crown Court proclaiming the company guilty of not taking adequate measures to protect their workers while replacing a controlling system of hydrostat which is needed as per law. The company which also accepted of violating Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc., Act 1974 and Regulation 13 of the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000 was ordered to pay £50,000 as fines in addition to £26,634.15 as prosecution charges.
The case is centred round an incident occurred in the Nestle Purina Petcare (UK) Limited plant situated at Wisbech. On 4th August 2006, as part of their job, five employees of the company were carrying out maintenance work of the hydrostat. This food processing equipment functioning on high pressure steam propelled out powerful vapours and boiling water from the equipment due to its incorrect functioning which caused serious burns on the hands, face and arms of the five employees who were working on its maintenance. All the five employees were treated in the hospital for their burns with one undergoing aesthetic plastic surgery on his arm due to the extent of the burn caused.
HSE probe on the entire incident brought the company’s mistake into light of not taking enough safety measures in protecting their employees as instructed in the guidelines while changing and fixing control systems of high pressured processing equipment.
Justifying the severe penalty ordered by the Court to Nestle Purina Petcare (UK) Limited, HSE Inspector stated that it is every organization’s responsibility to comply with the health and safety guidelines for the wellbeing of their employees. Hence while fixing or altering any controlling arrangement like regulators or switches in high pressure processing equipment correct procedures and instructions must be followed to safeguard their employees. If Nestle Purina had implemented all the processes with employees’ safety taken into consideration then this incident would not have occurred stated Mr Burns.
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