Sweet firm fined over worker death

By Staff Reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Tangerine confectionery, Occupational safety and health

Tangerine Confectionery, the UK's largest sweets manufacturer, has been fined £300,000 following on from a guilty ruling related to a worker fatality at one of its plants

The UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the firm following the death of employee Martin Pejril at its Poole factory.

The sweet company, which makes products including Sherbet Dip Dabs, Mojos, Black Jacks as well as Butterkist popcorn, appeared before the Crown Court in Bournemouth. It was found guilty of breaches under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and of breaching Regulation 3 (1) (a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work law.

The court heard 33-year-old Mr Pejril, a Czech-born starch room operator, was clearing a blockage in one of the machines at the Tangerine plant in Poole in February 2008. He climbed into the machine but as the mechanism restarted he became trapped, and subsequently died of his injuries. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Following the hearing, HSE inspector Simon Jones said the case highlighted the need to ensure that machines are safely isolated before any maintenance takes place so it cannot unexpectedly start up.

"Simply pressing a stop button does not adequately isolate a machine. If the machine in this case had been properly isolated from the electrical power source before Mr Pejril attempted to clear the blockage, this accident would never have happened,"​ he said.

He stressed that all employees need to be adequately trained in correct company procedures - whether for clearing blockages, operating machines or any other high risk activity.

A spokesperson for Tangerine Confectionery told this publication previously that it places an extremely high value on maintaining strict health and safety standards in its plants.

The HSE notes the rising number of health and safety incidences occurring in food and drink production plants. From the period from April 1999 to March 2009, it states, there were 33 fatalities and 83,000 injuries in the food and drink manufacturing sector.

These fatalities involved machinery (over 30 per cent), workplace transport (over 25 per cent), falls from height (over 20 per cent) and confined spaces/asphyxiation (over 10 per cent).

The agency said that the main causes of injury continue to be manual handling, slips on wet or food contaminated floors, falls from height, workplace transport, being struck by something sharp or falling objects, processing and packaging machinery.

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