Sushi maker says it was sent to A&E without slicing fingertips

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The sushi maker claimed his bosses sent him to A&E in a taxi without his severed fingers after an accident with a vegetable cutting machine.

Viraj Kakadia was left with two of his fingers permanently severed after January’s horrific accident at the Taiko Foods factory in Acton – a major supplier to supermarkets such as Waitrose, Pret a Manger and Sainsbury’s.

Mr Kakadia operated an ‘unsafe and dangerous’ vegetable cutting machine which stopped working while in use, according to the GMB union representing him in a compensation claim of up to £20,000 if successful.

GMB member Viraj Kakadia said: “The employer is playing with my life.

/ GMB Syndicate

The sushi maker, from India, was wearing one of only two steel gloves available to employees on the day his fingers got stuck as he tried to restart the machine used to cut peppers for boxes supermarket sushi.

In doing so, he lost the tips of two fingers.

He claimed that if his bosses had sent his fingers in the ice with him to the hospital, he could have had them attached to A&E.

In addition, the worker claimed Taiko bosses failed to call an ambulance, which forced him to take a Bolt taxi to St Paddington Hospital.

He told how he worked six days a week in near-freezing conditions at the west London factory.

He said: ‘The employer is playing games with my life.

“If they sent my fingertips with ice to the hospital, I would still have them intact today. They didn’t call an ambulance and they didn’t offer me any help.

“The employer does not provide a safe working environment. The standards are not there. The training does not exist and it is not a union organized workplace.

“My colleagues and I are standing up and protesting for our rights. They don’t treat us the same. They don’t value our work and the jobs we do are very difficult. I work six days a week in a work environment where the temperature is only four degrees.

“There is no amount of money for my injury that would fix it, so it’s not about the money.”

Taiko Foods spokesperson: “As a national food manufacturing company, Taiko takes its health and safety obligations very seriously. The well-being of our colleagues is paramount. We provide every employee with extensive training and a full supply of PPE, and we ensure that all machines are well maintained and have the appropriate safety devices.

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

“Our colleague will be paid in full for his leave and we have reinstated any annual leave he took as a result of this incident.”

A statement from Waitrose added: ““Worker welfare is extremely important to us and we are genuinely concerned to hear about it. We are urgently investigating this with Taiko.

GMB London area organizer Hiten Vaidya said the union forced the company to back down after it was told to initially take sick leave on holiday.

“There are over 600 workers in the factory, most earning the national living wage of £9.50 an hour,” he added.

“It is estimated that around half of the factory’s workforce is from ethnic minorities with English as a second language.”