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Company fined after man falls from height at food factory

A company has appeared in court after a man fell from a height and was seriously injured at a food factory.

Bedford Transmissions LTD, trading as BT Lerson, had been contracted by Veetee Rice to move and replace machinery within their factory in Rochester.

On August 17th 2020, an employee of Veetee Rice, stood on an unsecured metal plate left in place by BT Lerson the evening before and fell a height of approximately 2.5metres.

The court heard that the employee’s spine and pelvis were damaged in several places, which required a “lengthy” stay in hospital.

As a result, he was unable to return to work for several months.

Food factory

An HSE investigation found that BT Lerson did not properly plan, appropriately supervise, or ensure that the work was carried out safely.

The court heard that BT Lerson failed to identify the fall from height risk and necessary controls in their planning.

It did not take account of Veetee Rice’s employees who were working in the area.

In the lead up to the incident, BT Lerson worked over the top of the hole where the employee of Veetee Rice fell, with no suitable measures to prevent falls of their own workers.

BT Lerson then left the factory site with two unsecured aluminium plates covering the 2.5m drop with only plastic barrier tape marking the area.

That night, the employee was cleaning the work area when he stood on the unsecured metal plates and fell through.

At Folkestone Magistrates’ Court, Bedford Transmissions Limited pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The judge ordered them to pay a fine of £8,000 and costs of £7,194.32.

Heights

Working at height remains one of the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries.

In the UK in 2021/2022, falls from height accounted for 29 fatal injuries in the workplace.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Peter Bruce said this incident could have “easily been avoided” if Bedford Transmissions had “properly supervised and planned” this work to ensure that the work was carried out so far as is “reasonably practicable safely”.

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