Cargill plc has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after one of its employees lost three fingers in machinery at its factory in Manchester.

The employee was trying to clear a blockage in a wheat milling machine, when the glove on his left hand was dragged in by a roller, on 29 October 2010.

He also lost part of his index finger and has undergone a significant amount of surgery, following the incident at Cargill’s Trafford Park site.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

An investigation by the HSE found that a lockable plastic guard preventing access to the rollers was rarely, if ever, used.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court in Sale was told that the company’s procedure for sampling flour actually required operators to put their hands under the rollers while they were still rotating, reported the HSE.

It also found that another employee had suffered injuries the year before (May 2009) when his right hand was drawn into the rollers on the machine at the same factory, which produces wheat products for bakeries and fish food.

Following the incident in October 2010, Cargill fitted a large transparent sheet over the rollers with a small gap near the top where a scraper can be used to remove blockages.

Cargill, based in Surrey, was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £12,484.