Processor fined after worker breaks back

In the second ruling against a poultry producers in as many days the Health and Safety Executive has ordered Norfolk-based chicken processor Crown Chicken to pay £6,500 in fines and costs after an emoployee broke a vertebrae in a fall.

An investigation by the HSE found Peter Sherwood, 61, from Corton near Lowestoft, was carrying cladding boards up an unsecured ladder at Crown Chicken’s factory in Weybread, Diss, when the ladder slipped from under him and he fell 2.5m to the concrete floor.

In the fall Mr Sherwood broke one of his lower vertebrae and subsequently had to wear a back brace and was off work for six months. Since the accident he has returned to work but is only able to carry out light duties.

During their inquiries the HSE discovered that a supervisor at factory allowed Mr Sherwood to help another employee in carrying out maintenance using the ladder, but the work was poorly planned and the company had not trained staff on how to use ladders.

Crown Chicken Ltd admitted breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at Lowestoft Magistrates’ Court and was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000.

“Mr Sherwood was taken from his usual duties and asked to carry out a task for which he was neither properly trained nor supervised. As a result he suffered a serious and extremely painful injury which caused him to be off work for months,” said HSE Inspector Saffron Turnell.

“More workers are injured by falling from a ladder than any other access equipment. Crown Chicken should have been aware of this and ensured that adequate systems were in place so that its employees were not put at risk.

“HSE will not hesitate to take employers to court and seek tough penalties if they are found to be taking a lax attitude to their workers’ safety.”

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