Warburtons fined £2M for worker’s fall

Warburtons was fined £2M after a work sustained live changing injuries after falling from a mixing machine

Warburtons has been fined £2M for health and safety failings, after a worker was hospitalised after sustaining life changing injuries following a fall from a mixing machine.

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard how on November 11 2013 Andrew Sears was cleaning one of the mixing machines at the manufacturer’s Wednesbury bakery, when he lost his footing and fell nearly two-metres (2m). 

Sears suffered compression fracture to his spine and was unable to return to work until December 2014. He was unable to continue in his old role.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Warburtons routinely expected its workers to access the top of the mixers to clean them.

Not adequately supervised

The workers were often unable to balance and would brace themselves to stop from falling. Staff were not adequately supervised and there had been no training on how the mixer needed to be cleaned at height.

The company failed to control the risk of falls from height when carrying out this routine cleaning activity, said the HSE.

Warburtons told FoodManufacture.co.uk that it took the health and safety of its workers very seriously and was deeply saddened that its procedures had failed to protect Sears.

“We have taken the necessary steps to prevent this happening again and will continue to review all health and safety procedures across our business,” said Warburtons.

‘Review all health and safety procedures’

“We have a very strong health and safety record across all of our manufacturing and distribution sites and we invest heavily in ensuring an accident free workplace for our employees, often working together with the HSE.”

Warburtons Ltd of Hereford Street, Bolton, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulation 2005. The manufacturer was fined £2M and ordered to pay costs of £19,609.28.

HSE inspector Mahesh Mahey said: “This should have been prevented – Mr Sears life has been changed forever but his injuries could have been more severe.”

Falling from height is one of the most common causes of accidents reported by food and drink manufacturers.

Müller, Tesco and ICH were all fined in the past year for health and safety failings involving falls in the workplace.   

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