Food firm fined after employee falls into machinery - UK


14 April 2010
Release No:

An international food company that supplies major UK supermarkets has been fined after a worker was hurt while cleaning processing machinery.

The incident happened on 20 April 2009 during the night shift at the Bakkavör Fresh Cook Ltd site in Sluice Road, Holbeach St Marks, Lincolnshire.

Spalding Magistrates' Court heard that the worker was cleaning a machine consisting of three tanks which tipped food into each other.

In order to clean the machine properly, hygiene operatives needed to stand on the frame of the machine to reach various parts.

As the injured worker reached up she lost her footing and fell into one of the 1.5 metre deep tanks, resulting in her losing consciousness. She was rescued by colleagues who heard her shout as she fell.

The injured woman was subsequently off work for five weeks and reported suffering from severe headaches and pains in her neck and back, for which she had to take pain killers.

Bakkavör Fresh Cook Ltd, of West Marsh Road, Spalding, Lincolnshire, was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay costs of £2,091 after pleading guilty to breaching section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

HSE Inspector Jo Anderson said:

"No-one at Bakkavör realised that climbing was involved cleaning this machine. A risk assessment should have been carried out and an examination of how work at height was being undertaken.

"The company has now introduced a system of cleaning using long-handled brushes, which goes to show how simple it can be to prevent this incident in the first place.

"This case highlights the need for employers to be aware of what goes on during the night shift. All staff have a right to the same standard of care irrespective of their working hours."

Bakkavör's head office is in Reykjavik, Iceland and it employs 2500 people in the UK.

Notes to editors

  1. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states "It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees."