Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Fall from height during unloading of milk vehicle

Lanchester Dairies Ltd., a Co.Durham dairy, was fined £11,690 (inc. costs) after a worker suffered life-changing injuries following a fall. 
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred in the storage area of the dairy on 6 September 2013.
  • The storage area was 1.6m below yard level and 2.6m below vehicle level.
  • A risk assessment identified that the risk of fall as "likely", but there were no measures in place to prevent one. 
  • The assessment, carried out nine months before the incident, had stated that a safe system of work and training was needed for the unloading task, but this was not carried out until after Mr Atkinson’s fall
  • A barrier had previously been in place across the doorway to the storage area to prevent falls, but this had been removed two years earlier and never replaced.
  • Simon Atkinson was unloading empty milk bottles from a vehicle.
  • He fell from either the vehicle or the yard into the storage area; he cannot remember which.
  • He fractured an eye socket, sustained bleeding in his skull, multiple collar bone fractures and a broken rib and had to be put into an induced coma until surgery was carried out to remove a blood clot from inside his skull. 
  • Mr Atkinson was in hospital for nine days, has been unable to return to work since his fall and is awaiting further surgery to repair damage to his spine. 

The HSE Inspector said: 
“Lanchester Dairies was aware that the work being done by Mr Atkinson and others involved a fall risk, yet they failed to implement simple, inexpensive measures to prevent it. As a result Mr Atkinson suffered major, life-changing injuries and there was a real possibility that the fall could have proved fatal. Falls from height are one of the main causes of major injury and death in the workplace. This case reinforces the need to properly assess the risks and to put in place measures to prevent falls occurring.” 

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