Frozen foods firm McCain fined £700,000 after Lincolnshire worker loses fingers in accident

Tom Matthews' fingers following a workplace accident
Tom Matthews' fingers were amputated following a workplace accident Credit: HSE

Frozen food manufacturer McCain has been fined £700,000 after a worker lost two of his fingers in an incident at the company's Lincolnshire plant.

Tom Matthews, from Grantham, was cleaning batter system machinery during a night shift at the Easton site on 2 September 2019 when he attempted to remove string dangling from a chute.

His left hand was drawn into the equipment and contacted the rotary valve, which was missing a guard.

His index and middle fingers were seriously injured, and later amputated.

The Health and Safety Executive said the accident could easily have been avoided.

Father-of-two Mr Matthews, 33, now champions health and safety in his current job at a different company, warning others to avoid his misfortune.

He said: "The last four years have been hard and an ongoing struggle both physically and mentally.

"I still have circulation problems in my left hand following the incident that should never have happened.

"While I’m currently working, my new role is with the health and safety team at a different company as I want to use my story as an example to others and make sure something like this doesn’t happen again."

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that McCain Foods had failed to provide appropriate guarding to prevent access to the dangerous parts of machinery, namely the rotary valve.

It had not conducted an adequate risk assessment of the batter machine and had not provided employees with adequate health and safety training or supervision.

McCain Foods, of Havers Hill, Eastfield, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches.

The company was fined £700,000 and ordered to pay £6,508.51 in costs.

HSE inspector Muir Finlay said: "This incident could so easily have been avoided had the company taken simple steps to guard dangerous parts of machinery and provide employees with suitable training and supervision."

A McCain spokesperson said: "Since the incident in 2019, we have further enhanced our machinery safety measures, and across our six UK sites we have had zero employee safety incidents over the past 12 months.

"We sincerely regret this incident and extend our apologies to Tom Matthews and his family."