healthsafetyA large butchery firm in Lewisham has been fined for safety failings after an employee sliced his forearm because his safety gloves offered insufficient protection.

Rare Butchers of Distinction Ltd also failed to report the serious incident at its premises on the Chiltonian Industrial Estate on 21 July 2011 within the legally required ten-day limit – taking 29 days to notify the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday (1 May) that the injured worker, one of 50 employees at the firm, sustained a deep cut to his non-knife forearm while deboning a lamb shoulder.

He was rushed to hospital for emergency treatment and was off work for more than three months to undergo physiotherapy to rebuild strength in his left hand and thumb.

An investigation by HSE, after it was belatedly made aware of the incident, established that the employee, who does not wish to be named, was only wearing a wrist-length chain mail glove on his non-knife hand.

Magistrates were told that he should have been wearing suitable protection, such as a chain mail gauntlet as far as his elbow, and that had he done so the incident could have been prevented.

Rare Butchers of Distinction Ltd pleaded guilty to single breaches of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 and the Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Act 1995 for failing to provide suitable protective equipment and for failing to report the incident in time. The company was fined a total of £2,750 and ordered to pay £3,690 in costs.

After the hearing HSE Inspector David Balfour said:

“The deep, painful cut the butcher sustained was entirely preventable had he been wearing elbow- length chain mail gloves, which should have been provided by the company as a matter of course.

“Working with sharp knives poses clear risks, but not enough was done to mitigate those risks. It is imperative that all employers properly assess the type of protective clothing or equipment their workers need, and provide it as necessary.

“It is also vital that serious incidents of this nature are reported within the ten-day legal guidelines.”