£10,000 fine after worker crushed by fertiliser

A fertiliser company has been fined more than £10,000 after a worker was seriously injured when a bag of ammonium nitrate fell on him.

Robert Dearlove was left with s serious back injury and a fractured thigh after a bag of fertiliser slipped from a stack and and knocked him to the floor.

Mr Dearlove had been helping to clear a spillage beneath the stack at Fertiliser Solutions Ltd of Dawsons Wharf, Middlesbrough, when the accident happened in April 2008.

He had been hooking fallen bags of fertiliser – which were stacked on three layers – onto a forklift truck when he and another member of staff noticed two of the stacked bags were leaning to one side.

When he turned his back to the stack one of the bags fell and hit him.

Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard Mr Dearlove was in hospital for three weeks following the incident, had to wear a back brace for five months and later underwent surgery on his back.

He had not been able to return to work since the accident due to ongoing back pain and limited movement.

Fertiliser Solutions Ltd was fined a total of £10,500 and ordered to pay £12,411.45 in costs after pleading guilty to two health and safety offences.

Health and Safety Executive inspector Catherine Rimmer, said: “Although the company had a risk assessment for the bag store, which had identified bags falling from the stacks as a hazard, the control measures were simply too generic and made no reference to any safe working procedures.

“Had the two bags that remained on the third layer of the stack and which were seen ‘leaning’, been removed with a forklift truck before allowing workers into the area to clear up the spilled product, Mr Dearlove would not have been injured.

“The incident highlights the importance for all companies in the fertiliser industry to ensure that they have effective arrangements in place for the safe stacking and de-stacking of fertiliser bags and for dealing with bag falls from stacks.”