Two UK potato companies in Yorkshire and Essex have faced major fines this month following workplace accidents.
Potato processing company, Braegate Produce Ltd, has been sentenced for safety breaches after a worker, Colin Smith, was injured by three boxes of potatoes.
Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 5 January 2018, Mr Smith, aged 62, was walking across the middle yard to the maintenance workshop when he was struck by the load of a telehandler being operated by another employee. The impact knocked him to the ground and caused a fracture to his left leg.
Braegate Produce was found to have failed in matters of employee training and workplace obstructions.
Braegate Produce Ltd of Mill Hill, Braegate Lane, Colton, Tadcaster pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Workplace (Health and Safety Welfare) Regulations 1991. The company has been fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £962 in costs.
Earlier this month, C H Cole & Sons (Mill House) was also fined after a farm worker’s arm was pulled into potato grading machine.
Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard how on 24 October 2017 a 34 year-old agency worker was seriously injured when he fell onto the cleaning rollers of a potato grading machine at a farm in West Tilbury, Essex. He had been clearing potatoes off the rollers but the machine had not been isolated from its power source, and was restarted while the worker was still in a dangerous area. He fell on the rotating rollers and his arm was drawn in up to the shoulder before the machine could be stopped.
C H Cole & Sons (Mill House), a farming partnership based at Mill House Farm, West Tilbury pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and has been fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,000.
Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Saffron Turnell said “The worker involved in this incident sustained a serious and potentially life-changing injury, but the outcome could have been much worse. This investigation highlights and consolidates the important and consistent guidance HSE provides to the agricultural industry about the safe stop of machinery and plant, and companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate action against those that fall below the required standards.
“As farms start to plan for the holiday season, this case is also a timely reminder of ensuring casual workers are adequately shown how to operate in a safe system of working and the importance of safe stop procedures.”