Belfast animal feed manufacturer prosecuted after worker loses hand in unguarded machine

Date published: 19 January 2023

The Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) has successfully led a prosecution against John Thompson and Sons Limited, York Road, Belfast. An investigation followed an incident on 21 December 2019 that resulted in an agency worker sustaining life changing injuries.

The company who manufacture animal feed, earlier pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court, and today (19 January 2023) was fined a total of £40,000 for the offences.

The HSENI investigation found that the worker was carrying out maintenance on a grain roller machine in an attempt to clear a blockage when his right hand was drawn into two counter-rotating rollers. The incident caused severe crush injuries to his hand which later had to be amputated above the wrist.

Speaking after the hearing, HSENI Inspector, Kiara Blackburn said: “This serious incident could easily have been avoided.

“It is essential that safe systems of work are developed and implemented to ensure the safety of employees and other people working near dangerous parts of machinery.

“During any maintenance activity, machines must always be safely isolated from energy sources to prevent inadvertent start-up.”

Machinery guards can take several forms but where practicable, fixed enclosing guards should be used. In some cases, regular access to dangerous parts of machines may be required and other guard types such as interlocking guards may be more appropriate.

More information in relation to the safe use of work equipment and machinery guarding is available within HSE Approved Code of Practice and guidance (L22) Safe use of work equipment available on the HSE (GB) website at the following link:

Notes to editors: 

  1. Breaches and fines for John Thompson and Sons Ltd are as follows:
    a) Article 4(1) of the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978: fine £20,000.
    b) Article 5(1) of the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978: fine £20,000.
  2. For media enquiries please contact: HSENI Press Office on 028 9024 3249 or email For out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.

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