Sweet bosses fined £120k after employee hurt

Tangerine Confectionery Vicarage Lane
Tangerine Confectionery Vicarage Lane
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A company has been fined £120,000 for breaching health and safety regulations which resulted in an employee almost losing his foot.

Kevin Lowe was driving a pallet truck at the Tangerine Confectionery Ltd on Vicarage Lane, Marton when a fork pierced his foot during a collision with a fork lift truck, driven by another member of staff.

Preston Crown Court heard Mr Lowe’s injury was so severe he was at risk of having his foot amputated.

Mr Lowe, who is now around 50-years-old has been told he will always be on crutches or in a wheelchair and suffer pain. He is still off work on full pay and his wife has been forced to give up work to care for him.

Tangerine Confectionery Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety of an employee after the incident in September 2012.

The court heard Mr Lowe had been involved in two previous accidents at work one in July 2009 where a fork lift truck went over the top of his foot and in August 2012 a truck ended up shunting into him, causing bruising. The company itself had a previous conviction in April 2010 when an employee died after suffering crush injuries. That resulted in a total fine of £300,000.

A second incident dealt with by Blackpool magistrates in August 2011 saw the company fined again when a worker severed his index finger to the knuckle, while trying to remove a blockage.

Judge Stuart Baker said the accident had been “entirely foreseeable”.

Rebecca Hirst, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said Mr Lowe had two initial operations. He was told his foot would need to be amputated, but he refused. Three large screws were inserted, to put his foot back together.

An investigation by the HSE after the accident highlighted a number of failings. There was no effective control of vehicle movements in the warehouse, there was reduced visibility through curtains at an entrance and there was also a problem with storage.

Miss Hirst added: “The conclusions of the HSE investigation found that organisation was chaotic and disorganised in the warehouse and had been so for a considerable time leading up to the accident.” Richard Matthews, defending, said the company had “enormous regret” over Mr Lowe’s accident.

“The company and those that work for it have done all that is within their power to support Mr Lowe since this accident.”

Mr Matthews said there was now no possibility of a collision occurring in future.

After the accident curtains were replaced at considerable expense to install a system of automated rollers. There were also speed limiters on vehicles.

Passing sentence, Judge Baker said: “It was certainly an accident which, in my judgment, was entirely foreseeable. The defendant should have regarded the 2009 accident as being a warning to itself.

“It seems to me little, if anything, was done to prevent such an accident being repeated.”

A company spokesman said: “Tangerine Confectionery Limited deeply regrets the accident involving Mr Lowe and its consequences. The company has fully cooperated with the HSE throughout. We continually invest considerable resource to ensure that the health and safety policies in place are both robust and fit for purpose.

“As recognised at the hearing, immediate action was taken with the aim of preventing future instances occurring.”