The firm was fined £15,000 and £2,607 costs for failing to secure the doorway – which sat four metres above a concrete floor, but had no barriers to prevent employees falling – after HSE officers alerted it to the risk of a “serious fall from height” in July 2009 visit.
Officers told City of London Magistrates that the doorway was used to load and unload goods from a forklift truck operating in a yard outside; to make matters worse, the door was left open when the truck was not in use.
Despite an HSE notice to effect safety improvements, these had not been implemented by the time of a follow-up inspection last December, when an officer observed an employee leaning out of a doorway to empty a bowl of water.
Falls from height
HSE inspector Steve Kirton said after the court hearing: "Falls from height remain one of the biggest dangers in the workplace, accounting for one fifth of all deaths and scores of serious injuries in the food manufacturing sector alone, according to our latest official figures.”
"So it's incredibly frustrating to see a company like Capri Foods blatantly ignoring calls to protect employees when such a clear and obvious risk has been identified.”
HSE 2008/9 statistics show that in the 10 years from April 2000 to March 2010 falls from height led to 16% of the 44 fatal industries in food and drink manufacturing.
Other leading causes of fatalities involved machinery accidents (33%), workplace transport mishaps (24%), accidents in confined spaces or asphyxiation (13%), being struck by an object (4%) and fatalities caused by animals, chemicals and explosions (each 1%).
Falls from height accounted for 6% of non-fatal accidents in the sector, with manual handling incidents (32%) and slips or trips (25%) topping the list.