Potato processing firm fined £50,000 after worker is struck by telehandler

A potato processing company has today been sentenced for safety breaches after a worker, Colin Smith, was left with a fractured leg after he was struck by a telehandler.

The case was heard at Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard on Friday (April 12, 2019).

The judge heard how, on January 5, 2018, Colin Smith had been walking across the middle yard at Breagate Produce towards the maintenance workshop when he was struck by three potato boxes loaded on the tines of a telehandler being operated by another employee.

The impact knocked him to the ground and caused a fracture to his left leg.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had insufficient measures in place to prevent people being struck by vehicles.

A protected walkway was provided to only two sides of the yard, but not to the right side between the production sheds and the engineering workshop – a well-used pedestrian route.

The investigation also found a large number of boxes had been stored in the yard which meant there was less room.

As a result, it meant that pedestrians – including Mr. Smith – had to take a route further into the transport area than should have been necessary.

Court heard that the company also failed to ensure forklift truck and telehandler operators were clear what the site rules were around the transportation of potato boxes and to effectively enforce these.

The company – Breagate Produce of Mill Hill, Colton, Tadcaster – pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Workplace (Health and Safety Welfare) Regulations 1991. The company has been fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £962 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Kate Dixon commented: “Companies need to organise transport operations to reduce the risk it poses to pedestrians.

“This should include consideration of the site, driver and vehicles. There are some quick, easy and inexpensive steps that can be implemented.

“Companies should be aware that the HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”