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MAJOR FOOD MANUFACTURER PROSECUTED AFTER PILLAR FELL

Minor structural dismantling work should have been carried out by specialists

Premier Foods Group Ltd has been ordered to pay over £20k in fines and prosecution costs after a 65kg metal pillar fell on a maintenance engineer, crushing his skull.

Thomas Williams was working at the Premier Foods Manor Bakeries site in Merseyside on 24 July 2008 when a 4m section of pillar fell on his head. The company was prosecuted for failing to ensure the safety of its employees.

Wirral Magistrates heard the 61-year-old suffered severe traumatic brain and spinal injuries. He was in hospital for more than six months and now has difficulty speaking and moving. His wife has not been able to work since the incident in order to look after her husband.

Mr Williams and a colleague were involved in dismantling cages and pillars from a storage area.  An angle grinder was used to cut the pillar which when levered became free at the base, detached from the ceiling thereby striking Mr Williams.

Specialist contractors should have been used

The HSE investigation found that the company had not properly planned the task, and had not trained workers on how to carry out the work safely.

Phil Redman, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:

“A man’s life has been turned upside down because basic health and safety procedures weren’t followed. Mr Williams has been permanently disabled from his injuries and will never be able to return to work.

Premier Foods could have brought in specialists to carry out the work but instead Mr Williams and a colleague were just told to get on with the job.

Mr Williams did not have any previous experience of carrying out this kind of work, and he should not have been put in a position where he had to make decisions about how to do it. There really is no excuse for a company the size of Premier Foods to make this kind of error when it comes to health and safety.”

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