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Baker & Baker fined £400k after worker has leg amputated

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

Baker & Baker Products UK Ltd was sentenced at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court on 25 March 2024. Credit: Getty / Marilyn Nieves
Baker & Baker Products UK Ltd was sentenced at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court on 25 March 2024. Credit: Getty / Marilyn Nieves

Related tags health & safety

Food manufacturing firm Baker & Baker Products UK has been fined £400k after an employee had to have her leg amputated.

Sharon Bramhall was forced to have the leg amputated below the knee after a serious incident at the company’s premises on Stadium Road in Bromborough on the Wirral.

Baker & Baker Products UK Ltd was sentenced at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court on 25 March 2024, pleading guilty to breaching section 2(1) and 33(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £400k and was ordered to pay costs of £7,266 costs.

The court heard that Bramhall, 58, had been supervising four other members of staff as they completed high-level cleaning tasks during a night shift on 22 April 2022.

She had been acting as ‘a banksman’ for an employee who was controlling a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP), but as the MEWP turned through 90 degrees into the warehouse it struck Bramhall, crushing her left leg.

The incident was captured on CCTV and forced Bramhall to be hospitalised for three months, during which time she had a total of nine operations including several skin grafts.

Prosecution was brought by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforcement lawyers Karen Park and Matt Reynolds and paralegal officer Louisa Shaw.

'I could have died'

In a statement provided to the court, Bramhall said: “I know I could have died. Sometimes I wake up and just wish I’d booked that night off work for some reason and none of this would have happened.

“I have a huge scar on my stomach from where the surgeons took a piece of it to use as a flap over my stump. My left leg above my stump is really badly scarred and damaged. It was trapped under the cherry picker. The recovery afterwards was awful.”

An investigation by HSE revealed a series of failings by Baker & Baker, including the failure to put in place a suitable safe system of when moving a MEWP. The firm also failed to provide information, instruction and training for the movement of the MEWP and use of banksman.

It also failed to adhere to normal practice and the company policy to ensure a trained MEWP operator acted as banskman. Had such measures been implemented, the incident could have been prevented.

Bramhall added: “It is difficult to put in to words just how much the accident has impacted me. I have had to uproot and move my family.

“I am struggling with blistering on my stump, even now, rendering me wheelchair dependent. I am not able to leave the house on my own. I am fearful about what the future holds for me.”

After the hearing, HSE inspector Ian Betley said: “Sharon Bramhall suffered terrible injuries that will affect her for the rest of her life due to the failings of her employer.

“Vehicles continue to be a major cause of serious injuries in the workplace, and the first principle of any employer should be to keep people and vehicles apart.

“The risk assessment decided that someone was needed to escort the MEWP, thus a safe system of work needed to be devised.”

'Baker & Baker fully co-operated throughout the case'

A Baker & Baker spokesperson commented: “Baker & Baker accepts the findings of the HSE’s investigation, and we have co-operated fully throughout the case.  We sincerely regret the trauma and injuries caused, and we are extremely sorry for the impact this incident has had on our colleague and her family.

“We take the health and safety of our colleagues extremely seriously and consistently seek to instil a robust health and safety culture throughout our business to prevent a similar incident from occurring again.”

In other news, Morrisons posted a 4.6% increase in like-for-like sales during Q1.

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