Walkers Snack Foods has been ordered to pay £30,000 after a 400kg block of compacted snack waste smashed into a worker, breaking his leg.
The accident – involving a forklift truck driver – happened at the firm's Newark Road site, Lincoln on December 17, 2010.
The worker – who has asked not to be named – was trying to put the block into a wheeled bin when the bin overturned and the compacted waste landed on him, fracturing his lower left leg.
Lincoln Magistrates Court was told that waste pellets from the Quavers production line ran off a machine into a magnum bin. This was a large plastic box with slots underneath to accommodate the forks of a truck.
Since the pellets had solidified into a large block, which could not be dug out of the magnum, the worker and a colleague used the forklift to turn the magnum over so the block fell out.
After the block was lifted into the wheeled bin, it became stuck. When the two men tried to move the bin, it tipped over causing the block to fall onto one of the workers.
Unable to work
The injured man was unable to work for 15 weeks but had since rejoined the firm.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that the work had not been properly planned, supervised or carried out safely.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Scott Wynne said: "The task of devising a method to dispose of the waste pellets had been given to an agency worker who did not have the experience or training required to allow him to properly plan how the task should be carried out. As a result it was carried out without supervision and, as the injuries to the employee suggest, the task was not carried out in a safe manner.”
Walkers Snack Foods also failed to properly assess the risks associated with the task, which should have formed an important part of the planning process, he added.
Walkers Snack Foods pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Regulation 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.
The firm was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,000.
A spokesman for Walkers’ owner PepsiCo said: “Walkers Snack Foods wishes to apologise for the incident at its Lincoln site in December 2010. The Company has fully co-operated with the HSE throughout its investigation and the subsequent proceedings.
“Walkers Snack Foods is committed to ensuring the health and safety of all our employees, customers and visitors. Immediate action was taken after the incident to ensure this does not happen on one of our sites again.”