News added on 15.04.2019

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Pedestrian routes

Potato avalanche resulted in broken leg

An employee at a food processing company was injured when he was struck by a telehandler load of potatoes. How could his employer have prevented this accident?

Mr Smith worked for a potato processing company. He was walking across a yard to get to the maintenance workshop, when he was struck by three potato boxes that were being transported on the tines of a telehandler. He was knocked to the ground and suffered a fractured leg as a result.

The HSE’s investigation found that Braegate Produce Ltd had insufficient measures in place to prevent people being struck by vehicles or their loads. There was a protected walkway on two sides of the yard, but not on the side that workers used frequently to get from the production sheds to the workshop.

The investigation team noted a large number of boxes stored in the yard at the time of the accident, meaning that pedestrians had to walk further into the transport area than they should have done to avoid the obstructions. This brought workers on foot into closer proximity to the vehicles, increasing the risks to their safety.

The company did not ensure that fork lift truck and telehandler operators had sufficient information and training on the site rules about transporting loads safely, and failed to enforce those rules.

Braegate Produce Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching its duty to ensure that its workplace was compliant with the Workplace (Health and Safety Welfare) Regulations 1992. It was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £962 in costs.

The employer should have ensured that the traffic routes were clear of obstructions and that workers on foot could use safe and clearly segregated pedestrian routes. It should have been aware that the designated pedestrian routes were inadequate and that workers were at increased risk because they were using alternatives.

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