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A Northamptonshire chocolate maker could face a civil lawsuit after a man was injured in an accident at work.
Joao Countinho was conducting his regular duty of maintaining and cleaning a machine that pipes liquid chocolate into moulds to be sold to market on February 29th 2012.
After he finished washing the device's primary components, the 41-year-old moved on to clean one of the stirrer's cavities.
He removed the rotors and reached up to the metal objects but accidentally forgot to turn off the machine and because of this oversight his left index finger became trapped inside the moving part.
Although he was quickly rushed by paramedics to a nearby hospital, the man's finger was unable to be reattached and the rest of his digit was subsequently removed by surgeons.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was informed of the incident and sent investigators to establish the facts of the case.
They found the machine was only partially guarded against intrusion, as there was no interlocking protection - leaving Mr Countinho able to reach inside.
Speaking about the case, HSE inspector Michelle Morrison said: "Ashbury Chocolates had a duty to ensure its employees were protected from the dangerous moving parts of its machines. It failed in that duty.
"The company has since installed a new guard to prevent a recurrence but it is a pity a man had to suffer a painful injury for that to happen.
"This was a serious incident that could have easily been prevented."
Ashbury Chocolates pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £5,000, on top of being ordered to pay costs of £3,485.
Because the incident meant he was off work for three months, Mr Countinho could sue to reclaim substantial lost earnings he may have suffered as a result of his injury.
Posted by Francesca Witney
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