Food firm ignored manual handling risks
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is reminding companies of their legal duties on manual handling after an employee was injured when a 50kg sack of basmati rice fell on his neck. East End Foods plc pleaded guilty last week to safety offences and was fined £25,000 with £28,000 costs. Wolverhampton Crown Court heard an HSE investigation into the injury in June 2006 discovered large consignments of 50kg sacks of basmati rice were routinely being offloaded manually from containers without the use of any mechanical aids. The firm had received a December 2002 improvement notice from HSE, for failure to carry out satisfactory risk assessments for manual handling work. HSE's latest probe found in a typical six-month period, from January 2006 to June 2006, 1,700 tonnes or rice had been delivered that required offloading manually. It said East End Foods plc had failed to heed advice given by both HSE in 2002 and the company's own health and safety consultant in 2005. Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Judith Lloyd said: 'In the food and drink industry, 30 per cent of all acute injuries result from bad practice in manual handling. Stacking and de-stacking sacks, boxes and crates are amongst the top five causes of manual handling injuries in the food and drink industry. Studies have shown that threequarters of these injuries are preventable - that's why the HSE is vigilant in ensuring employers follow the rules and regulations set out for their industry.'
Issued: 1 February, 2008