Company fined after polytunnel collapse caused "life-changing injuries"

A Hampshire mushroom substrate supplier has been fined £40,000 after a worker was seriously injured by a falling polytunnel bulkhead.

Basingstoke Magistrates' Court heard last week that an employee of Tunnel Tech of Leckford was dismantling polytunnel structures when the end bulkhead weighing around 750kg fell on him.

The unnamed worker suffered a collapsed lung, a ruptured diaphragm, displaced intestines, a broken pelvis, six rib fractures and fractures to his spine. He spent 10 days in intensive care, and a further 15 days in hospital and extensive rehabilitation.

The court was told by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that if a suitable and sufficient risk assessment had been carried out, this would have identified the need to use workers with specialist skills and knowledge to carry out the work safely.

HSE inspector Andrew Johnson said: "Demolition and dismantling work is recognised as being a particularly dangerous activity.

"This work was not properly planned out by the company and that lack of planning has led to a worker suffering very serious injuries which he is still working hard to recover from many months later. If it was not for the quick response of the air ambulance, this could easily have resulted in a fatality."

Tunnel Tech admitted three breaches of regulations, was fined a total of £40,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £1,809.

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