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August 25, 2015

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Food manufacturing company and director sentenced

A multi million pound turnover food manufacturer, The Sandwich Factory Holdings Ltd, and one of its directors have been fined after a 26-year-old worker was severely injured when he was crushed by a forklift truck at its Warwickshire factory.

The company was ordered to pay £118,000 after it pleaded guilty to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and director, Paul Nicholson, was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs of over £50,000 for breaches of the same Act.

Leamington Crown Court heard that agency worker Jamie Barsby was lucky to be alive after the incident at the company’s premises on the Carlyon Road Industrial Estate in Atherstone on 29 July 2012.

He was thrown from the forks of a forklift truck and crushed between the forklift and the back of an articulated lorry as he was being lifted into the back of the lorry to reorganise pallets of sandwiches. Mr Barsby, from Atherstone, broke a number of vertebrae, fractured his pelvis and suffered blood blisters all over his body.

The judge found that Mr Nicholson had failed to ensure safety management systems were in place at the factory. The court heard that had such systems been in place, the unsafe practice would not have occurred and existed for a prolonged period of time.

The Sandwich Factory Holdings Ltd, of Helsinki Road, Sutton Fields Industrial Estate, Kingston upon Hull, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was fined a total of £60,000 and ordered to pay costs of £57,790.

Mr Nicholson, aged 55, of Balnain, Drumndrochit, Inverness, pleaded guilty to two breaches of section 37(1) of the same Act. He was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs of £50,513.

The judge, in sentencing, said: “The system being operated by the Sandwich Factory Limited at the time was a disaster waiting to happen. It all arose as a result for pushed growth and a desire for profitability that was given priority over the safety of employees.”

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Alison Cook said: “It was a matter of sheer luck that this incident did not result in a fatality. Mr Barsby suffered severe injuries that could have easily been prevented. The company failed to ensure that obvious risks from transport operations were controlled.”

“Mr Nicholson in his role as director should have had adequate systems in place to ensure the safety of his workers. He neglected to do that. The provision of a simple set of steps was all that was needed to keep Mr Barsby and others safe.”

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