The injuries stemmed from serious safety failings, according to an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Northallerton Magistrates’ Court heard the two men – Michael Armitage and Simon Manock – were not directly employed by the company but were installing equipment at the firm’s Northallerton site when the accident happened on February 24 last year.
No risk assessment had been conducted to ensure pedestrians and vehicles did not come into contact and, consequently, there was no agreed safe system of work, magistrates were told.
One of the workers, Armitage, was knocked to the ground and run over by the rear wheels of the trailer. He suffered serious and multiple injuries to his arms torso and pelvis, requiring several operations.
Knocked to the ground and run over
The other contractor was less seriously injured and sustained minor cuts and bruising.
After the hearing HSE inspector Geoff Fletcher said the accident could have been prevented easily if AB Agri Ltd had put in place a safe system to segregate pedestrians and vehicles.
“The potential for collision and injury is well known within industry,” said Fletcher. “It is easily preventable through appropriate methods of segregation, such as physical barriers and non-pedestrian zones, especially where vehicles reverse routinely, and adequate instruction and supervision of drivers and pedestrians.”
But the firm’s failures meant two workers were able to access an area where there was a high degree of risk and sustained serious injuries. “This could easily have had tragic consequences,” he added.
AB Agri Ltd, of Grosvenor Street, London, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1,239 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1,239 in costs
A spokesman for the firm told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the business was committed to ensuring the highest standards of health and safety for its employees, contractors, customers and visitors.
“The company wishes to express its sincere regret for the injuries caused to Mr Armitage and Mr Manock on 24th February 2014, and in pleading guilty, acknowledges that on this occasion it did not meet the high standards it sets for itself,” he said.
“Since this unfortunate incident, AB Agri has made major investments over and above those recommended by the local HSE to improve onsite health and safety. The company has also been providing all possible support it can to Mr Armitage and Mr Manock, and their respective families. AB Agri accepts the penalty imposed and shall not be appealing the outcome.”
Meanwhile, HSE advice about safer workplace transport is available here. http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg136.htm