A workplace fall has led to a £4,000 bill for a Suffolk potato business.
A 67-year old worker - who has asked to remain anonymous - suffered serious injuries after falling from height, in what the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has described as “a dangerous lifting operation”.
After the accident at Mann Potatoes Partnerships on November 5th 2012, the man spent nine days in hospital. He was treated for a broken shoulder blade, seven fractured ribs, two chipped vertebrae, a cracked pelvis cradle and a serious head injury.
Once released from hospital, he could not return to work for four months while he recovered from his injuries.
Three employees of the business - Richard Mann, Alexis Mann and Christopher Mann - were prosecuted for their roles in the partnership after an HSE investigation.
Just before the accident, the employee was asked to retrieve seed potatoes from a shed at Stangrove Hall Farm. To do this he stood in a potato box balanced on the forks of a forklift truck, which was lifted to the top of a stack of boxes some six metres high.
As the worker was being lowered to the ground, he shouted to a colleague - who was operating the machine - to stop while he freed a curtain that protected the seeds as they dried.
When the descent resumed, the box he was standing on became unbalanced and he fell three metres to the ground.
After backing the forklift truck away, the colleague found the injured worker lying unconscious on the ground.
The court was told that while a safe and suitable system had been developed, no checks were carried out to ensure it was actually being followed.
According to the HSE investigation, workers regularly bypassed the system when the appropriate equipment was unavailable.
HSE inspector John Claxton said after the hearing: “The injured worker could easily have been killed. This incident illustrates the need for duty holders to ensure work at height is carefully planned and managed at all times.
“That includes exercising vigilance to ensure the correct procedures are followed.”