A food company has been fined after a man fell from pipework.
Mark Askham was working a night shift at the premises of European Oat Millers Ltd when the accident happened in February 2011. The company processes grains such as oat and wheat to be used in food production.
Mr Askham was in the basement of the 9-storey mill when a feed pipe became blocked. He pinpointed where the blockage was but had no ladder or platform available to reach it. Instead he climbed on pipework and sat on one of the pipes so that he could reach the blockage.
Unfortunately, whilst he was doing this, he lost his balance and fell three metres to the ground below. Mr Askham struck more pipework during his fall, and suffered multiple injuries. He broke several ribs, as well as suffering from cuts and bruises in the accident.
Health and Safety Executive inspectors investigated and concluded that the accident could have been easily avoided had basic safety measures put in place. The HSE also confirmed that the company had made a commitment years before the incident to review work at height procedures on its premises. However, there was no evidence to suggest that any reviews had taken place before the accident.
The firm pleaded guilty at Bedford Magistrates’ Court last week to breaking work at height regulations in regards to the incident. They were subsequently fined £12,000.