£90k fine for Potton firm after worker injured

The case was heard at St Albans crown court
The case was heard at St Albans crown court

A Potton meat production company has been fined for safety breaches after a worker was injured while adjusting storage racking.

Luton Crown Court on Friday heard how a York House (Meat Products) Limited employee was instructed to adjust the height of shelves on storage racking with the assistance of co-workers.

To enable them to reposition the top shelves of the racking the workers climbed up onto one of the lower crossbars which then gave way underneath them.

One of the workers fell, hitting his head on the racking before landing on the floor.

The dislodged crossbar fell from a height of 3.2m, hitting the employee on the back of the head and shoulders.

“The injured individual suffered soft tissue damage to his right shoulder and required physiotherapy for several months. He was also unable to work for two months.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident, which occurred on 12 April 2016, found the company had failed to adequately manage the risks associated with working at height.

Employees were not aware of the dangers associated with climbing storage racking and no safe system of work was in place.

York House, of Shannon Place, Potton, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The company was fined £90,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,567.88.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Emma Page said: “This incident could have been prevented had York House Meat Products provided a risk assessment or a safe system of work for the task in hand. Employees should be made aware of the risks associated with climbing storage racking.”

The privately owned firm started in Potton in 1970 and operates from a 50,000 square feet factory in Shannon Place.

On its website it describes how: “Our product ranges are vast, encompassing pork, bacon, ham, ribs, lamb, beef, sausages, meatballs, salt beef, sliced meats, diced meats and meat ingredients.

“We offer raw and cooked meats, supplied chilled or frozen, and prepared to the individual specifications of our customers in the manufacturing, service and retail sectors.

“Our presence in different markets creates a key benefit for our customers.

“It allows us to bring innovations and ideas developed in response to demand from one area of the business into every area. This exchange of knowledge and expertise can give you a head start with the latest industry trends, enabling a faster time-to-market for your own new developments.”