Essential information and advice about safe working at height and complying with HSE regulations is available from the HR Shop at HRreview.

A multi million pound turnover food manufacturer and one of its directors have been fined after a worker was crushed by a forklift truck at its Warwickshire factory.

Leamington Crown Court heard that agency worker Jamie Barsby was lucky to be alive after the incident at The Sandwich Factory Holdings Ltd 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. The 26-year-old, from Atherstone, broke a number of vertebrae, fractured his pelvis and suffered blood blisters all over his body.

The Judge found that director Paul 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, located in Kingston upon Hull, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was fined a total of £60,000 and ordered to pay costs of £57,790.

Director Paul 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.”

Essential information and advice about safe working at height and complying with HSE regulations is available from the HR Shop at HRreview.

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James Marsh is an HR consultant and currently leads the editorial team at HRreview.

An avid HR blogger and tweeter on HR and management issues, James has worked as an HR manager, consultant, in-house recruiter and trainer and has expertise in both management strategy and HR policies and processes. He has a BA from the University of Nottingham in American Studies, a Masters in Human Resource Management from the University of Westminster and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

James is also the regular chairperson of HRreview's series of webinars that discuss and debate the latest HR trends and issues, InsideHR.