Two food manufacturers have been ordered to pay large fines after breaches of health and safety legislation resulted in employees getting seriously injured at work.

A poultry-processing company has been fined £866,650 plus costs of £11,651 after admitting to the breach of Regulation 17 of the Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. The breach occurred in January 2017, when an employee was struck by a forklift truck causing serious leg injuries which resulted in the man’s left leg being amputated above the knee.

The accident happened when a forklift truck was driven into the yard to drop off some pallets. The driver reversed around a trailer and didn’t see a yardman who was standing behind the trailer. The forklift hit the yardman causing life-changing injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that there was an inadequate system of segregation in the yard to separate people and vehicles. Speaking at the hearing HSE inspector Lindsay Bentley said: “The employee’s injuries were life-changing and he could easily have been killed. This serious incident with devastating injuries could have been avoided if basic precautions had been put in place.”

Since the incident, procedures have been put in place so that the yardman is segregated at all times from forklift trucks when they are operating in the yard. The prosecution comes just days after another food manufacturer was fined £274,000 after two different workers lost a finger and thumb in separate incidents at a UK processing site. In both cases, the workers became trapped in moving machinery which resulted in a finger and thumb being severed.

After an HSE investigation, it was found that the company failed to have adequate measures in place to mitigate the consequences of a worker becoming trapped in a machine and that it failed to ensure that safe isolation procedures were followed. Accordingly the company was found to be in breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Provision and Use of Works Equipment Regulations 1998.

These two prosecutions illustrate what was said after the hearing by the HSE inspector: “Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.” The Team at Walker Morris are experienced in all aspects of Health and Safety law and how it applies to food businesses so contact us if you need advice in this area.