Bakery giant fined £1.9m after worker hurt at Eastwood factory

Warburtons factory in Eastwood.
Warburtons factory in Eastwood.

Bakery giant Warburtons has been fined £1.9 million after an agency worker was trapped for 20 minutes at its Eastwood plant – and died nearly a fortnight later.

Profoundly deaf Wayne Thorpe spent three years working at the site and and had been checking dough as it fell into tins, Nottingham Crown Court heard.

He was cleaning dough which had fallen between tins when his right arm got caught between a conveyor belt and moulder at the Meadowbank Way plant on August 4, 2015.

Judge Rosalind Coe QC was told cleaning was not one of his roles, but she said: “He was clearly trying to be a good employee.”

Mr Thorpe, aged 44, suffered “a significant friction burn” from the elbow to shoulder on his right arm. He needed a skin graft at Nottingham City Hospital.

The judge said he died from a “kidney infection and pre-existing heart condition” two weeks’ later, but the works accident had not “caused or contributed to his death”.

Explaining how he was caught in a 40 millimetre gap, Judge Coe said: “This trapping point was overlooked.

“Guarding of machines was inconsistent. Remedial steps were simple and not unduly expensive.”

The judge said it was an important factor that there was no “means of stopping the machinery immediately within reach”.

Tim Pole, prosecuting, said the alarm was raised when a worker heard “a moaning sound”, but a “red emergency” button failed to halt the conveyor belt.

It was finally stopped when another worker put his hand in front of a light beam.

Engineers had to dismantle the machine to free Mr Thorpe of Sedgwick Street, Langley Mill.

The firm admitted a breach of health and safety rules.

Ben Compton QC, mitigating, said cleaners were given keys to switch off machines and padlock them so they could do their jobs safely.

He told the judge: “Agency workers were not expected to clean.”

He said: “We would wish to offer their condolences to his family.”

After the case, a Warburtons spokesman said: “The health and safety of all our people is our first priority and we are deeply saddened that on this occasion our procedures failed to protect Wayne.

“We have taken the necessary action across our bakeries to prevent this happening again.”