Company fined £60,000 after falling beer kegs cause "life changing injuries"
By Court reporter | 14th May 2019
A brewery distribution company has been fined £60,000 after a man suffered life-changing injuries when beer kegs fell on him on his first day at work at the depot.
Magistrates in Cheltenham heard that on May 18th 2017 the 27-year-old agency worker received a traumatic brain injury and facial fractures requiring metal plates to be inserted into his skull as a result of the accident.
He had arrived at the Gloucester depot of H&M Distribution Ltd that day for his first day of work as a multi-drop delivery driver, the court was told.
After a brief induction process, he made his first drop successfully, said the Health and Safety Executive.
However, the address provided for the second drop was incorrect and a delivery of 12 beer kegs was not made.
When on his next delivery in Cheltenham, the worker used a pallet truck to manoeuvre the beer on the lorry to gain access to the next load on his list.
He fell backwards from the raised tail lift onto the road and several kegs of beer fell and struck him, causing the serious injuries.
An investigation by the HSE found the worker had no previous experience in using the type of pallet truck or tail lift involved in the incident.
He was not given any practical training in the safe use of this machinery, nor was he made aware of safe working practices on how the pallet truck should be used on a tail lift.
H & M Distribution Limited, of Warrington, had failed in its duty to carry out checks on the injured person's competence and previous experience, the HSE said.
As a consequence of their failure to make these checks, they did not provide adequate training.
The company, of Newton Le Willows, Warrington, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.
It was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,203.14.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Berenice Ray said: "Employers who use agency workers or contractors have a responsibility to firstly establish the workers' competence, taking into account their level of experience and familiarity with the work and work equipment, and then provide the appropriate level of training to ensure the work is done safely.
"If appropriate training had been provided, the life-changing injuries sustained by the agency worker could have been prevented."
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