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Food firm told to pay +£60k for endangering workers’ safety

By Mike Stones , 28-Nov-2012
Last updated the 28-Nov-2012 at 16:38 GMT

A global ingredients firm has been ordered to pay more than £60,000 after two of its workers were seriously injured in separate accidents.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Jas Bowman & Sons for safety failings and failing to protect people working at height at its UK manufacturing base at Ickleford Mill, near Hitchin in Hertfordshire.

On July 7 2009, a maintenance engineer fell more than 2m while trying to clean flour from inside an elevated conveyor. The worker − who was standing on the frame of a nearby machine to remove upper guarding on the conveyor – slipped and fell to the floor. The fall fractured his right shoulder blade and a vertebra in his spine.

Fell into the shaft

In a second accident on July 15 2010, an electrical sub contractor fell down a lift shaft while carrying out maintenance work on a jammed second floor lift door. After a panel reading showed the lift was at second floor level, he opened the door after overriding a release mechanism and stepped in. But the lift car had returned to the ground and the worker fell into the shaft.

The worker fractured his skull, developed a cranial blood clot, severed his right ear, which was almost completely detached from his head, and sustained extensive bruising as a result of the fall. The man was unable to work for 18 months.

The results of a HSE investigation, presented at Stevenage Magistrates’ Court, revealed that both accidents were caused by serious failings with work not being properly planned, supervised or carried out safely.

‘Lessons should have been learned’

HSE inspector Graham Tompkins said after the hearing: “These were both serious incidents in their own right, but coupled together they provide a worrying picture. Lessons should have been learned from the first incident, however, the safety of workers continued to be compromised.

“This culminated with the fall of the electrical sub contractor, which was entirely preventable and should have been avoided. He could easily have been killed and I hope the severity of that incident and today's prosecution serves as a final wake-up call.”

Jas Bowman & Sons pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The firm was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,282.

03:43 pm 16 September 2014