Food firm fined after accident

A FOOD processing firm with 650 employees has been fined £14,400 after a worker's knee was crushed in an accident involving a forklift truck.Tulip, of Caxton Way, Thetford, which admitted failing to ensure the safety of staff from risks caused by moving vehicles, was also ordered to pay £2,850 costs.

A FOOD processing firm with 650 employees has been fined £14,400 after a worker's knee was crushed in an accident involving a forklift truck.

Tulip, of Caxton Way, Thetford, which admitted failing to ensure the safety of staff from risks caused by moving vehicles, was also ordered to pay £2,850 costs.

Ruth Barber, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, told Central Norfolk magistrates at Swaffham on Tuesday that the accident happened on December 16, 2002.

Production operative David Featherstone was hit by a large and "extremely heavy" drum knocked on to him by a forklift operated by Andrew Burr.

Miss Barber said the two men were working in the curing room, where drums of meat are placed into tumbling racks, when Mr Featherstone was outside his colleague's line of vision.

He had stepped out of the way into a 2ft gap between a bin and electric pallet truck.

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Miss Barber said: "As Mr Burr reversed the forklift truck, the load he was carrying hit the bin behind which Mr Featherstone was standing, pushing the bin on to him and crushing him between the bin and the pallet truck."

The injured worker was taken to West Suffolk Hospital by air ambulance and doctors diagnosed a "significant crush injury" to his right knee resulting in damage to ligaments, tendons and nerves.

Mr Featherstone lost the feeling in his right foot for about two weeks, had to have physiotherapy for about seven sessions and was unable to return to work for 10 weeks.

She said that a previous injury occurred in the curing room in November, 1998, when another worker suffered a broken kneecap when he was hit by a forklift truck.

Noel Walsh, mitigating, said the company apologised to Mr Featherstone for the injury he sustained and added that the accident had exposed management failings and weaknesses.

He said: "Those failings have been fully addressed to the satisfaction of the Health and Safety Executive."

Risk assessments had been carried out and several safety measures introduced, including safety barriers and warning signs in prominent positions, and the curing room had been designated a restricted area.

Operation of forklift trucks was now prohibited when pedestrians were in the area, and every employee had to have full safety training. The health and safety manager and operations director at the time were replaced.

Court chairman Jean Bonnick told company director Brian Ollerenshaw and current health and safety manager Eric Ward: "What made the accident worse in our opinion was that there had been the previous accident in 1998.

"On your own admission there were management failings and this led to the serious injury of one of your employees.

"However, we have heard about what the company has done since then and taken into account that you have involved your workers in health and safety decisions and practices."

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