The incident at Ellesmere Port resulted in serious injuries to a worker as he fell from an unsecured ladder.
On the 8 January 2015, Darren Taylor, aged 40, was assisting in a deep clean of conveyor belts, at the Ellesmere Port site, and used a ladder so that he could remove guards for access. As he ascended the ladder it moved, causing him to fall 1.75 metres to the ground.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the company did not have a risk assessment or safe system of work for the cleaning of the conveyor belts or for the safe use of ladders. None of the workers involved in cleaning the conveyor belts on the day of the incident had received training in the safe use of ladders
Bolton Magistrates’ Court heard that from February 2014, William Sinclair Horticulture Limited had previously received two formal HSE warnings that there was an issue on site in relation to unsafe work at height, but the company failed to take adequate action.
The Court also heard that William Sinclair Horticulture Limited failed to heed the advice of an HSE Inspector by not providing adequate guarding on machinery at their Lincoln site. Following a proactive visit by the Inspector on 28 January 2015, an Improvement Notice was served to improve the guarding of the conveyors that fed products into the machines.
Subsequent visits on 4 March 2015, resulted in an additional Improvement Notice being served in relation to guarding on the sand line. A third visit on 9 June 2015 the Company still had significant issues with machine guarding, despite previous formal enforcement action.
HSE inspector Helen Jones said after the hearing: "William Sinclair Horticulture Ltd failed to act on the advice they were given to improve safety standards at both their Ellesmere Port and Lincoln sites.
"Because the company had failed to ensure adequate control measures were in place to reduce the risk of falling from height, Mr Taylor suffering serious injuries when he fell from the ladder.
"A fixed platform had already been identified as a better way to control the risk of falling from height, but the company had failed to act to ensure the risks were significantly reduced."
William Sinclair Horticulture Limited of Firth Road, Lincoln, LN6 7AH, (currently in administration) was found guilty of breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £7,071.