Baxters fined £60k after worker lost a foot in horrific accident

Baxters - health and safety failings
Baxters – health and safety failings

ONE OF MORAY’S largest employers has admitted to “serious” health and safety failings that led to a man getting caught up on a conveyor system.

At Elgin Sheriff Court on Thursday Baxters of Speyside admitted to the failings at their Fochabers plant that led to Buckie man Jodie Cormack losing part of his right foot.

The company was fined £60,000 after the court heard that Mr Cormack, who was employed as a cooker operator, had to have his left foot amputated when it became trapped in a vegetable steaming machine.

The court was told that a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the accident revealed the employer was unaware that staff had developed an “impromptu” method of pushing any remaining vegetables into an auger that had become common practice.

Workers would regularly use a ladder to climb on a conveyor belt and then use a squeegee to push vegetables towards the machine.

Procurator fiscal Geoff Main told the court that it was during such an operation that Mr Cormack’s left foot slipped from the conveyor belt and was pulled into the auger. He was subsequently trapped in the machine for an hour as two surgeons from Dr Gray’s Hospital worked on his injuries before he was subsequently flown to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

By December last year Mr Cormack was able to walk only minimally with the aid of crutches, and he continues to suffer from ‘phantom pain’ although he has returned to work at Baxters, retraining as a forklift driver at the Fochabers plant.

The court was told that the HSE investigation concluded risk assessment in place at the time of the accident was not “suitable or efficient” in recognising the range of tasks being undertaken by employees.

Baxters were fined £6000 in the same court earlier this year when they admitted health and safety failings that led to another employee losing full use of a hand.