Dungannon firm fined after worker’s leg amputated following machinery incident

A Northern Ireland firm has been fined more than £70,000 after a worker’s leg got trapped in machinery and had to be amputated.

The incident happened at a mushroom processing plant on October 16, 2019.

Details of the incident emerged via a statement issued by the Northern Ireland Health and Safety Executive on Thursday.

Read more: NI building firm fined £380,000 after driver suffers “traumatic brain injury”

They say Luka Ilic’s right leg was “caught by the rotating blades of a mushroom filling machine and became stuck in the device’s moving parts”.

The statement added: “He was part of a team of three at Howden Enterprises Ltd, trading under the name Hughes Mushrooms, that were cleaning the machine at the firm’s premises in Holme-on-Spalding-Moor, East Yorkshire.

“The then 29-year-old climbed onto the machine, which is used to prepare and fill compost in growing trays, to remove the last remaining parts of the compost. The machine was then turned on, leading to Mr Ilic’s leg being caught by the rotating blades in the mixing axle and becoming trapped. His leg was later amputated below the knee at hospital.”

They added that a Health and Safety Executive investigation into the incident “found Howden Enterprises Ltd failed to adequately assess the operation of the filling machine, in particular the cleaning of the machine”.

The HSE says the firm failed to ensure “robust isolation and safe operating procedures were in place and followed”.

Howden Enterprises Ltd, of Trew Mount Road, Dungannon, Co Tyrone, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the HSE statement added.

The company was fined £73,333.00 and ordered to pay £7,522.60 in costs at Hull and Holderness Magistrates Court on April 10, 2024.

CCTV of the machinery on the day of the incident showing a long green machine with a forklift to the left
The machinery on the day of the incident
(Image: HSENI)

HSE inspector Louise Redgrove said: “The importance of a suitable and sufficient risk assessment which reflects all actual practical activities cannot be underestimated. It is vital to ensure there are effective systems of work and physical controls which are implemented, supervised and used by all those involved. This incident could have easily been avoided with a robust isolation procedure and padlock for each worker involved.”

This prosecution was brought by HSE enforcement lawyer Iain Jordan and supported by HSE paralegal officer Rebecca Whithell.

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