Sunday, 26 October 2014

Colombier fined £34,000 after pallets of paper fall

Colombier (UK) Ltd., the UK division of a pan-European paper company in Sittingbourne, was fined £34,496( inc. costs)  after a worker broke her leg in three places when poorly stacked pallets of paper collapsed.
The circumstances were:

  • Although risks arising from falling stacks were identified by the company as a concern, the risk assessment did not address recovering paper from a collapsed stack, so the actual process for controlling this risk was virtually non-existent. 
  • The system for stacking pallets in open areas of the warehouse did not follow HSE or industry guidance.
  • Colombier had failed to implement effective control measures for the stacking of heavy items.
  • There were two recorded incidents of stacks falling prior to this incident
  • On a further three occasions the issue had been raised at management level. However, this information did not result in any practical change.
  • On 27 May 2009, a worker had helped to recover two pallet loads of paper that had collapsed and spilled from a stack.
  • As she walked away further pallets slipped from the stack and struck her leg, causing the triple break.
The HSE inspector commented:
“Risk assessments are not a paperwork exercise, and should be used as a management tool to identify risks and trigger the need for robust systems and procedures to eliminate them from the work process – so far as it is reasonably practicable to do so. If there is a change in process, a revised risk assessment should be implemented to follow suit.This case should serve to remind managers of the need to be aware of what is happening in their workplace, and to react immediately if any issues are identified. Concerns about the stacking process were well known at Colombier, and yet there was no management response to protect workers until it was too late, with an experienced employee sustaining a horrific leg injury that was entirely preventable.”

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