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Wind Blows Worker from Shipping Container

29 February 2012

UK - A meat and food manufacturing firm has been fined after a worker was blown off the top of a shipping container while moving corrugated metal sheets.

Barry Walton, aged 64, from Taunton, was an employee of Vion Foods UK Ltd and was working at their food processing plant in Wiveliscombe when the incident happened on 10 February 2010.

Taunton Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Walton was standing on top of the shipping container lifting the metal sheets from a forklift onto the roof when a gust of wind knocked him off the edge.

He fell more than two-and-a-half metres to the ground, breaking his ribs and damaging muscles in his leg and shoulder. He was off work for seven weeks.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation into the incident found that Vion Foods UK Ltd had failed to plan the work properly. They had not carried out a risk assessment or ensured that a safe system of work was in place to prevent a fall. In addition, although the work was being supervised by another employee, he had not had adequate training for working at height.

HSE inspector Kate Leftly said: "Any work at height needs to be properly planned and supervised to minimise the risk to workers. If these things are not done, falls can happen all too easily with serious consequences.

"In this instance, Mr Walton did not need to be standing on the shipping container to carry out the work: he could have used a vehicle such as a fork lift to deposit the sheets or he could have worked from a contained elevated platform."

Vion Foods UK Ltd, of Livingstone, Scotland, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974 and were fined £12,000 and £4,400 in costs.

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