Food firm fined £320k after worker killed

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

The incident occurred in January 2020. Credit: Getty / DNY59
The incident occurred in January 2020. Credit: Getty / DNY59

Related tags health & safety

A fruit and vegetable supply business has been fined £320,000 after a man was killed at its site in West Lancashire.

Francis Schlachter, who was 64 years old, suffered severe head injuries when he fell from a skip at a farm operated by M.A. Forshaw Limited on 3 January 2020. He had been tipping food waste into the skip from a container attached to a forklift truck, but container could not be securely attached to the forklift, which was known to detach from the vehicle during the procedure.

As Schlachter attempted to manually assist in the operation, he was standing on top of the skip when the container slipped from the forklift causing him to fall to the ground, resulting in fatal head injuries.

A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that M.A.Forshaw Limited of Heatons Bridge Farm in Scarisbrick, West Lancashire, had not fully assessed the risks involved in this daily task. The investigation also found that the firm had failed to maintain equipment in safe working order and had not properly instructed staff in safe working practices.

At a hearing at Wirral Magistrates’ Court on 1 February 2024, the company pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £320,000. M.A Forshaw Limited was also ordered to pay £4,574 in costs.

‘Wholly avoidable incident’

Commenting on the incident, HSE inspector Lianne Farrington said: “This wholly avoidable tragic incident led to the death of a much loved husband, dad and grandad.

“It was caused by the failure of the company to implement safe systems of work, properly maintain work equipment, and sufficiently assess the risks involved in routine work processes.

“If suitable work practices had been in place prior to the incident, Frank’s death could have been prevented.

“At HSE, we always stress the need for employers to risk assess tasks by speaking to the employees who undertake the work, and to ensure that work equipment is safe and suitable to use.”

‘I have lost my soulmate’

Schlachter’s wife of 35 years Linda said that her husband was a “gentleman through and through​” who would continue to live on in the memories of his friends and family.

I have lost my soul mate​,” she said.

“Frank was my rock. He was kind, dependable and always put his family first. Since his passing, I have had a fair share of trials and tribulations to encounter and these have been a great challenge without the support of a beloved husband.

“We have all suffered the loss and it will be embedded in our bones forever. No man should go to work and never return home after a day of hard work.”

In other news, Adnams Brewery has instructed advisors to explore funding opportunities.

Related topics Legal Fresh produce

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