18th May 2017
National bread makers Warburtons were fined £2million after a worker was hospitalised following a fall whilst working at height.
In January this year Wolverhampton Crown Court heard how on 11 November 2013 Andrew Sears was cleaning one of the mixing machines at their Wednesbury bakery, a routine job he carried out every few weeks, when he lost his footing and fell nearly two-meters.
Sears was hospitalised with a compression fracture in his spine. He was not able to return to work until December 2014 but was unable to continue in his old role and was dismissed in December 2015 after another long period of sick leave.
The Health and Safety Investigation found that Warburtons Limited routinely expected their workers to access the top of the mixers to clean them. The workers were often unbalanced and would brace themselves to stop from falling. The workers were not adequately supervised and there had been no working at height training. The company failed to control the risk of falls from height when carrying out this routine cleaning activity.
Warburtons Limited, Hereford Street, Bolton, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulation 2005 and was fined £ 2million and ordered to pay costs of £19,609.28.
The HSE view
HSE inspector Mahesh Mahey said “This case highlights how important it is for companies to fully assess the risks from work activities at height and to take appropriate action to prevent injury in the workplace. This should have been prevented, falls from height is one of the biggest killers in the workplace and even falls from fairly low levels can be extremely dangerous. Mr Sears life has been changed forever but he his injuries could have been more severe.”