Drinks company Diageo Scotland Ltd was fined £18,000 two workers were injured in falls at separate plants in Moray. The circumstance were:
The falls occurred while clearing blockages
There was neither a risk assessment nor any written instructions for the cleaning of the machine as it was assumed by Diageo that this would be done solely from the ground.
Diageo Scotland Ltd provided platform ladders for access but these were difficult to manoeuvre across the pipes and conveyors covering areas of the silo floor and to get them past the lights and ducting on the ceiling.
Diageo had failed to take sufficient steps to prevent the use of ladders in unsafe circumstances when clearing blockages.
Instructions on how to wash the shovel were passed down from one employee to the next during initial training to be a loader shovel operator.
In the first incident, Robert Edward fell nearly four metres from a portable ladder while clearing a blockage inside a chute in a grain silo at Burghead Maltings on 1 January 2012.
He was found unconscious on the floor by another worker and taken to hospital with concussion, a cut to his head and a dislocated finger. He had restricted movement in his hand but has returned to work.
In the second incident on 16 March, Peter Douglas was standing on the engine bonnet of a loader shovel to wash the roof at Glenlossie when he slipped and fell more than two metres to the ground.
Mr Douglas was taken to hospital suffering from a bleed to the brain and a shattered bone in his left leg. His short term memory has been affected, however he has returned to full-time employment.
The HSE Principal Inspector said:
“Both of these incidents, which could have proved fatal for the workers involved, could have been avoided had Diageo Scotland Ltd ensured its employees were adequately protected from the risks associated with their jobs. At Burghead Maltings, Diageo’s management was aware of the blockage issue; however they failed to identify that a safe method of working was not in place and that unsafe practices for clearing blockages had developed. At Glenlossie, a discussion with a loader shovel operator on how it was washed would have identified the dangers to employees. The risk assessment on the use of the loader shovel should also have considered the risks associated with its cleaning. In both cases Diageo had provided work at height training, which included risk assessment training, and believed their employees should be competent to plan and carry out work at height. However, it is not sufficient for health and safety instructions merely to be given to workers; employers must also ensure those instructions are carried out.”