Chocolate firm Thorntons fined over worker's injured hand

Chocolate maker Thorntons has been fined £20,000 after a worker's hand was dragged into a machine she was cleaning at its factory in Derbyshire.

Ellen Yardley, 37, fractured her middle finger and suffered cuts in the incident in Somercotes in November 2009.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) audit found the machine and others at the factory had inadequate protection.

The firm admitted the failings at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates' Court.

Ms Yardley was working at the company's Somercotes plant on a machine where chocolates were wrapped in foil and dispensed down a chute into a tray.

'Dragged in'

During a short break in production, while the machine was still running, she attempted to clean the inside of the output chute which had become covered in caramel.

However, the cloth she was using became tangled in rotating parts which gripped the chocolates and her right hand was dragged into the machine.

Ms Yardley was off work for 10 weeks after the accident.

A subsequent HSE audit of machines in the factory found safety improvements were necessary to a range of machines.

After pleading guilty, Thorntons was fined £20,000 and was ordered to pay full costs of £7,680.

HSE inspector Stuart Parry said: "Thorntons should never have allowed the machinery guarding to fall below the legal safety standards.

"It was effectively asking its employees to work on machines that put them at risk of injury."

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