Animal feed firm fined £15,000 after unsafe pellet press crushes worker’s hand

A Devon animal feed manufacturer has been fined after an employee’s hand was crushed in a pellet press causing life-changing injuries.

Exeter Magistrates’ Court heard that on February 10, 2017, 39-year old Ross Standen from South Molton was attempting to unblock a feed pellet press, which had been switched off, when the machine started up again.

Standen’s hand was caught in the machine, resulting in horrific injuries to his thumb and tendons in his index finger. Following multiple operations, which included the removal of bone fragments and skin grafts from his leg, his thumb was amputated.

Standen lost his right thumb as a result of the accident

Standen told the court he relives the trauma in regular flashbacks and has also suffered from insomnia and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following the incident.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that there was no lock-off procedure or way to isolate the machine at the time of the incident.

Aylescott Feeds and Driers Ltd of Burrington, Umberleigh in Devon pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The firm was fined £14,933 and ordered to pay costs of £2,500.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Melissa Lai-Hung said: “This injury was completely avoidable, and the risk should have been identified.

It is heart-breaking that this incident has had devastating consequences. The physical damage has meant Ross hasn’t been able to enjoy activities with his son such as cycling and gaming due to the loss of his thumb.

“Employers should make sure they properly assess and apply effective control measures to minimise the risk from dangerous parts of machinery.

“If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life-changing injuries sustained by Mr. Standen could have been prevented.”