A mushroom farm was fined almost £22,000 after an employee was left with serious injuries.
The accident occurred in December 2014, when the employee of Thakeham Mushrooms in West Sussex was adjusting a machine on the farm’s tray tipping line. The machinery is used to empty wooden trays, which can weigh up to 400 pounds when full of mushrooms.
The machine had been moved 18 months prior to the accident, a subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive discovered. Although it was properly guarded in that original location, the guarding had not been re-installed after it was moved – despite employees requesting it.
The accident involved a full tray hitting the employee – who wished to remain anonymous – in the face. The HSE, Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety, found that the accident was entirely avoidable and caused by the lack of guarding. “Despite requests from employees and managers, this machine had been left without safeguarding following its relocation,” commented HSE inspector Graham Goodenough. “This failing meant that the operators were exposed to the risks from this machine on a daily basis for 18 months. Had the company installed the same level of guarding, which they have now done, this accident and the resulting consequences for the employee and the company need not have happened.”
At Worthing Magistrates Court, Thakeham Mushrooms pleaded guilty to offences until Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974. The company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of a further £1,943. In addition, the employee is able to pursue a claim for compensation for loss of income, additional expenses incurred as a result of the accident and for the pain and suffering caused by the injuries.
The HSE states that there are some 40,000 injuries at work every year, and around 12 deaths. Most of these are easily avoidable. British employers lose around 250,000 work days a year through such accidents.
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