Chicken firms fined after employees injured in falls

Two poultry businesses have been fined after their employees were seriously injured in falls on their premises.

Llynclys Farm Ltd in Shropshire was fined £6,000 after an employee fell from an unguarded platform and fractured his pelvis, while Crown Chicken in Norfolk was fined £3,500 after a factory worker fell from an unsecured ladder and broke his back.

The unamed 36-year-old agency worker at Llynclys Farm was walking on a temporary platform made from stacks of cages to move hens from the poultry house when he tripped. He fell nearly three metres from the unprotected platform edge, fracturing his pelvis in two places and also suffering a collapsed lung.

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) investigation into the incident found Llynclys Farm had identified the risk of workers falling from the platform, but did not fit any edge protection to it or take any other measures to reduce the risk of falls. The farm pleaded guilty of breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £6,276 costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Janice Dale said: “Falling from height remains the most common cause of workplace deaths and those who survive are often seriously injured – as in this avoidable incident. Llynclys Farm had identified the potential for workers to fall from the platform, but failed to act on its own risk assessment. This dangerous system of work had been in place for around five years before the incident.”

The accident at Crown Chicken’s factory in Weybread, Diss, occured when factory worker Peter Sherwood, 61, was carrying cladding board up an unsecured latter and it slipped from under him. He fell 2.5 metres to the concrete floor and suffered broken vertebrae in his lower spine, which meant he had to wear a back brace and was off work for six months. He has since returned to work, but is only able to carry out light duties.

An investigation by the HSE found that, on 24 July 2010, a supervisor at the Crown Chicken factory had allowed Mr Sherwood to help another employee in carrying out a maintenance task, but the work was not adequately planned and the company had not provided information to its staff on how to use ladders safely.

Crown Chicken admitted breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at Lowestoft Magistrates’ Court today and was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000.

HSE inspector Saffron Turnell said: “Mr Sherwood was taken from his usual duties and asked to carry out a task for which he was neither properly trained nor supervised. As a result he suffered a serious and extremely painful injury which caused him to be off work for months.

“More workers are injured by falling from a ladder than any other access equipment. Crown Chicken should have been aware of this and ensured that adequate systems were in place so that its employees were not put at risk.

“HSE will not hesitate to take employers to court and seek tough penalties if they are found to be taking a lax attitude to their workers’ safety.”