A Prestwick meat processing firm has been fined £310,000 after two workers had their fingers amputated in horrific accidents.

Darren Dunn, 37, and Ian Qua, 22, were both left scarred for life while working in factories owned by Browns Food Group.

Mr Qua was operating a meat blender making cocktail sausages at a site for Browns Manufacturing in Prestwick.

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He put his hand through a gap while emptying sausage meat when his fingers caught revolving metal paddles of the machine.

This caused the middle finger of his right hand to be ripped off and left trapped in the machine.

The stricken worker was rushed to hospital but the finger could not be reattached and he still suffers nightmares about his ordeal.

Mr Dunn was working in a Halls of Scotland factory grinding meat down for slice sausages when he noticed a blockage in the machine.

He tried to clear it while the machine was operating but a rotating screw caught his hand and ripped off the tip of his right-hand ring finger.

Mr Dunn was also taken to hospital but suffered no further complications.

An investigation revealed safety guards were not in place which would have prevented employees accessing moving parts.

Both men had received limited training on how to operate the machines.

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Halls and Browns Manufacturing admitted breaching health and safety guidelines at Hamilton Sheriff Court.

Halls admitted breaches between December 2018 and January 2019 while Browns admitted breaches between October 2015 and August 2016.

Sheriff Douglas Brown fined Halls £120,000 and Browns £190,000 and gave them two years to pay after hearing profits had fallen by 25 per cent due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Depute fiscal Paula Russell said: "Mr Qua had completed the sausage mixing process and was discharging the sausage meat.

"He was standing facing the operator's panel using the two-handed controls to open the discharge door and transfer meat.

"He reached round to the right-hand side of the control panel towards the discharge door of the blender with his right arm.

"Due to the gap created when the discharge door was open, his fingers met with the revolving paddles of the blender.

"Mr Qua immediately removed his hand with the amputated finger remaining within the mixer and ran downstairs to the supervisor's office.

"Due to shock, he was unaware his finger had been amputated."

Miss Russell added: "The line was stopped when Mr Dunn took over from a colleague who left to attend to another matter.

"He was advised to start the line when the buzzer sounded and did so.

"Shortly after, he noticed that the meat was not processing through the line properly and that meat had begun to pile up suggesting a blockage in the mincing screw.

"He lifted the lid in the mincing screw and attempted to clear the blockage with his hands while the machine was still running.

"His hand came into contact with the rotating screw and he lost his right-hand ring finger."

Barry Smith, advocate defending both companies, said: "The most important thing to say is that all those associated with both Halls and Browns Manufacturing wish to record serious regret that these accidents occurred and gave rise to injuries to two valued employees.

"Safety measures were in place but these were not sufficient.

"These breaches clearly disclose deficiencies of the guarding and steps were immediately put in place to address the breaches that had been brought to light.

"Lessons have been learned and they take the health and safety of employees very seriously and regret these breaches."

Sheriff Brown said: "Both of these machines were capable of inflicting serious injury on any employee putting their hand near to them.

"It was submitted that both were isolated incidents but the fact that there was a second incident after the first must raise questions about health and safety practices.

"Both of these accidents were entirely avoidable had a safety guard been in place."

Halls of Scotland are famous for a range of meat based products while Browns Manufacturing focuses on supplying the restaurant and hospitality trade with similar products.

Alistair Duncan, Head of the Health and Safety Investigation Unit, said: “Both of these workers were left permanently disfigured by incidents that were foreseeable and easily avoided.

“Since these incidents, the company has installed guards and interlocks on these machines, as well as improved their training.

“Hopefully this prosecution and the sentence will remind employers that failure to fulfil their obligations can have serious consequences.”