Fine for potato firm after unsafe working at height led to serious fall

The potato box used to lift the injured worker - image:HSE
The potato box used to lift the injured worker - image:HSE

A Suffolk potato supplier has been fined £3,000 and ordered to pay nearly £1,000 in costs after a worker was seriously injured in a fall at a potato store.

The 67-year-old, who declined to be named, sustained a serious head injury and broke a shoulder blade and seven ribs in the incident at Mann Potatoes Partnership in November 2012.

He had been attempting to retrieve seed potatoes by balancing on a potato box raised by a forklift truck, from which he fell 3m to the ground, leaving him unconscious.

He was hospitalised for nine days, and was unable to work for four months.

Ipswich Magistrates' Court heard that a safe system for the job had been devised employing a securely fitted cage, but no checks were carried out to ensure it was followed.

Company partners Richard, Alexis and Christopher Mann were prosecuted after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified clear safety failings.

They were jointly fined a total of £3,000 and ordered to pay combined costs of £993 (including a victim surcharge) after individually pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector John Claxton, said: "The injured worker could easily have been killed.

"Lifting someone as they stand in a box on the forks of a forklift should clearly have been recognised as an unsafe practice, and the onus was on the business partners to prohibit such a system of work."


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