Health & Safety 

The problem

Steve was called, whilst working for a local authority, to investigate an incident reported in the local newspaper of a serious incident that had occurred at a local butcher’s shop. A retail grocer with a small Halal butchery section claimed that a pushy customer had seized the meat and tried to mince it themselves while he was serving another customer by fetching meat from a rear freezer. The mincer was unsafe, with the guard removed, and the “customer’s” hand was dragged deep into the mincer. The emergency services could not remove the hand from the mincer and was so badly damaged that it was later amputated in hospital.

The solution

Steve interviewed the shop owner and his wife, taking great care to establish the details of the incident as it became clear very quickly that not all was as it first seemed. Steve took detailed notes, photographic evidence, and sketches to build a case for prosecution against the shop owner. The “customer” was in fact a 19-year-old man being “employed” by the owner as cheap labour. He had not been trained in the proper use of the equipment.

The outcome 

The shop owner was prosecuted by the council. He had no employer’s liability insurance at the time of the accident, and he had failed to report it to the council as required by law. The owner changed his plea to guilty only a month before the case was due to go to trial. He was handed a seven-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months; 100 hours of unpaid work; a compensation order of £75,000 to the victim; and a victim surcharge of £140.