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Kebab factory worker 'barely functioning' after hand mangled

By Essex Chronicle  |  Posted: October 10, 2013

  • HORRIFIC: The hand injuries suffered by Mr Torunoglu were life-changing

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A KEBAB factory has been fined more than £20,000 after one of its workers suffered horrific injuries as a result of his hand becoming trapped in machinery.

Ethem Torunoglu had been working at Kismet Kebabs in Latchingdon cleaning one of the unguarded machines when he reached in to dislodge a piece of meat caught in the equipment.

He became trapped and cried for help as the serrated roller ripped the flesh and tendons in his hand, leaving him with shocking injuries.

At Chelmsford Crown Court on last Thursday (October 3), a judge fined the company £17,500, plus £7,500 costs, for the accident that left Londoner Mr Torunoglu "barely functioning".

"This was wholly avoidable. Ethem Torunoglu was failed by the company's lack of proper training, inadequate assessment of risks, and lack of effective measures to stop access to dangerous parts of equipment," said Julie Rayner, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector.

"His life has been destroyed. He is unable to go back to work. He is unable to use his hand and only has about 10 per cent range of movement in it. He relies on his wife for many tasks of daily living."

The factory off Maldon Road, which employs 52 people, pleaded guilty to two health and safety breaches connected to the incident, both for failing to take steps to prevent access to dangerous parts of the machine and for failing to train staff in the safe use and cleaning of it.

Mr Torungolu has not worked since the accident in February last year, which ripped off all the knuckles, damaged tendons and veins, and took all the flesh from his right hand.

The 36-year-old spent 19 days in hospital and underwent three operations to rebuild his hand, including a large skin from his left thigh. He has since had a further two operations and is awaiting plastic surgery.

"He has effectively lost interest in living," said Judge Anthony Goldstaub, reading from the victim's impact statement.

An investigation by the HSE revealed that despite the known risks, there was no interlock or tunnel guard on the machine preventing employees reaching the stripper comb or stopping the machine operating when it was in its open position for cleaning.

Machinery training was inconsistent and employees had not been made aware of the risks and dangers which could occur during cleaning.

Counsel for the factory, which has since employed a health and safety manager and spent £28,000 on remedying deficiencies in the workplace, said the company operated on a tight margin.

"It was not a deliberate or reckless act. It was careless on behalf of the company," said Rebecca Hurst.

"[Director Maurice Green] took pride in how it was run and he took the accident very badly. He suffered a significant period of stress and in August 2012 suffered a heart attack on a flight."

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