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Thirsk company fined over employee's fall

[Tuesday 11 July 2006]

MAGISTRATES in Northallerton have fined a Yorkshire Dales based pet food company following an accident in which an employee was injured.

Wagg Foods Limited of Dalton Industrial Estate in Topcliffe near Thirsk was fined £5000, plus costs of £4,807 after one of its employees fell, injuring his back, when he was asked to work at height balanced on an unsecured stack of pallets.

In this instance the working methods recommended were impromptu and ill-considered, with disastrous results for the unfortunate employee

Jeanne Morton - HSE Inspector

The company, which produces dog food, pleaded guilty at Northallerton Magistrates Court to charges brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under Sections of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act (HSW) 1974.

The accident occurred after a fork lift truck driver was required to add one of the ingredients manually because the usual automatic blending process was not working satisfactorily.

Workers on two shifts were instructed to access the blending bins by climbing aloft a stack of 14 pallets to shovel carrot flakes whilst standing amid the feed bag. On 21st June last year, during the second shift, the 23 year old worker lost his balance and fell, injuring himself.

HSE Inspector Jeanne Morton said: "This case demonstrates all too clearly how anyone working at height, even at a low level, is at serious risk of injury if work is not properly planned, risks are not assessed and work is not carried out using the right equipment.

"In this instance the working methods recommended were impromptu and ill-considered, with disastrous results for the unfortunate employee.

The dangers involved in working at height may not be immediately obvious. A much greater awareness is needed amongst employers, employees, and indeed the public in general, something which has been underlined by HSE's recent high profile, nation wide Height Aware campaign."

  • Section 2(1) of the HSW Act states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees".

  • The maximum fine in a Magistrates' Court for charges under Section 2(1) of the HSW Act is £20,000.

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