Hotel Chocolat fined after worker’s finger torn off

By Alice Foster contact

- Last updated on GMT

Hotel Chocolat worker’s hand pulled into unguarded stirrer
Hotel Chocolat worker’s hand pulled into unguarded stirrer
Luxury chocolate maker Hotel Chocolat has been fined £25,000 after a worker’s hand was dragged into a stirrer, ripping off his finger.

Supervisor Piotr Podgorski, 35, still suffers from nightmares about the moment his cloth became entangled in the stirrer while cleaning out the tank of a machine.

The cloth wrapped around his finger, twisted his arm and then tore off his finger and stripped the tendon from his arm on August 16 2014.

Nightmares and depression

Podgorski, from Bretton in Peterborough, could not work for more than two months and remains plagued by nightmares and depression.

View from HSE

"The risk posed by the unguarded stirrer should have been obvious.”

  • Roxanne Barker, inspector, Health and Safety Executive

Hotel Chocolat pleaded guilty to breaching work equipment regulations and health and safety rules during the case heard at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court.

The manufacturer was ordered to pay £2,521 in costs and a £200 victim surcharge, on top of the £25,000 fine.

The company’s risk assessment process had failed to recognise the hazard posed by the rotating stirrer, according to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) findings.

‘Entirely preventable’

After the sentencing, HSE inspector Roxanne Barker described Podgorski’s serious injuries as “entirely preventable”.

“The risks associated with rotating parts are well known and span many industries. The risk posed by the unguarded stirrer should have been obvious,”​ Barker said.

“The company should have put measures in place to prevent access to the dangerous parts of the machinery, not rely on the operator to isolate it.”

Podgorski was injured while cleaning the tank of a machine which passes chocolate products though molten chocolate to given them an outer coating.

Following his injury, Hotel Chocolat has fitted interlocks and emergency stops to the tank units on 12 of these machines.

Related topics: Manufacturers, Chocolate