Factory worker severed fingers in veg cutter then bosses ‘threw them in bin’

A factory worker who makes sushi for brands including Waitrose and Sainsbury's says bosses threw away the tips of two of his fingers after an industrial accident – and then suggested he book a Bolt taxi rather than call an ambulance.

In January, Viraj Kakadia who works at the Taiko Foods factory was using a machine to cut peppers for sushi wearing just one of the two steel gloves Viraj’s union claims was available that day to protect workers.

On trying to restart the machine his fingers became trapped – leading to two of his fingers being severed.

However, instead of calling him an ambulance Viraj claims his bosses told him to call a Bolt taxi.

Once he was at St Mary’s hospital in Paddington, the medical team asked him where his fingers were – only for the factory to inform him that they had disposed of them, the union says.

The company has not denied they disposed of his fingertips and a source close to the company confirmed this was the case, MyLondon reports.

As a result of the accident, the GMB is now filing for compensation over “negligence” which could be worth upwards of £20,000 if successful.

GMB London organiser Hiten Vaidya said: “They should have called an ambulance. It’s the employers responsibility, and it has been totally unacceptable.”

Viraj, 27, originally from India, speaks little English and works six days a week at the factory.

Mr Vaidya also claims there was no sensor or safety guard on the vegetable cutting machine, and alleges the cutting machine broke down several times in the week before the accident but continued to remain in use.

But figures close to the company insist all workers have adequate PPE and that the machine is in working order, and that a Bolt offered the "quickest means possible" to get to hospital.

Speaking through a translator, Viraj told MyLondon: “The employer is playing games with my life. If they sent the fingertips with ice with me to the hospital, I’d still have them intact today. They didn’t call an ambulance, and they haven’t offered me any support.”

Viraj is now back at work but says the finger which lost the most flesh is “still not bending properly” and remains “very painful.”

He added: “There is no amount of money for that injury that would solve it. I lost my finger. It’s not a question of money. I expect the GMB union to help and ensure this negligence doesn’t happen to anybody else in future.”

Viraj added: “The employer isn’t providing a safe working environment… The standards aren’t there. The training is not there. And it is not a trade union organised workplace.

"So we are standing up and protesting for our rights. They don’t treat us equally. They don’t value our work. And the jobs we do are very hard.”

“Since my accident three months ago – the company hasn’t said anything about my injuries. Why is the company not helping and supporting me?”

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A spokesperson for Taiko said: “As a national food manufacturing business, Taiko takes its health and safety obligations very seriously. The wellbeing of our colleagues is paramount. We provide each employee with thorough training and a full supply of PPE, and we ensure that all machinery is well-maintained and has the correct safety features in place.

“This was an incident to which the on site team responded swiftly and efficiently, ensuring our colleague reached hospital as quickly as possible.

"Our colleague will be paid in full for his leave of absence and we have reinstated any annual leave he took following this incident.”

A Waitrose spokesperson said they were looking into the issue urgently: "Worker welfare is incredibly important to us and we're really concerned to hear about this. We are investigating this as a matter of urgency with Taiko."

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “All of the products available to our customers have to be produced in a way that meets our high worker safety and welfare standards.

"We take allegations of this nature very seriously and we are urgently investigating with the manufacturer.”

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