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10 September 2010 from  BBC News

Firm Fined £14,000 over Merseyside Man's Crushed Skull

One of the UK's biggest food makers has been fined £14,000 after a Merseyside bakery worker had his skull crushed by a metal pillar.  Thomas Williams, 61, of Prenton, Wirral, was working at Premier Foods Group's Manor Bakeries in Moreton in July 2008 when the accident happened.  He suffered severe brain and spinal injuries and was permanently disabled. Premier Foods Group Ltd, based in St Albans, admitted breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. Mr Williams and a colleague had been removing cages and pillars from a storage area at the Reeds Lane site.

Thomas Williams spent six months in hospital after the accident at work

Permanent disability

The pair were levering a pillar free from its base when a 4m (13ft) section, weighing 65kg (143llbs), became detached from the ceiling and fell on Mr Williams' head.  Wirral Magistrates' Court heard that he suffered severe traumatic brain and spinal injuries and was in hospital for more than six months.

He now has difficulty speaking and moving and his wife has given up work to help to look after him.  A Health and Safety Executive (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.

Premier Foods was fined and ordered to pay £6,808 costs, at a hearing on Thursday. Phil Redman, HSE's investigating inspector, 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."  Premier Foods, which last year made profits of £323.1m, owns brands including Hovis, Mr Kipling and Bisto. A spokesperson for the company said: "Premier Foods sincerely regrets the accident at Manor Bakeries which resulted in the injury to Mr Williams. "Premier Foods has an excellent health and safety record and takes its responsibilities extremely seriously, and steps have been taken to prevent a similar incident occurring."


Also in the Liverpool Echo

Food giant fined for accident at Wirral cake factory that left dad-of-six brain damaged 

A DAD-of-six was left permanently brain damaged after a 65kilo pillar fell on his head as he worked at a Merseyside factory.  Yesterday Premier Foods, owners of the Moreton Manor Bakeries plant where the accident happened, was fined £14,000 after pleading guilty to breaching the health and safety at work act.

Tom Williams, 61, of Prenton, had worked at Premier Food's Moreton site for 34 years as a maintenance engineer when he was asked to remove a pillar as part of a health and safety drive. He suffered severe traumatic brain and spinal injuries, and was in hospital for more than six months.

Mr Williams now has difficulty speaking and moving, and his wife has given up work to look after him. The court heard that the work by an outside contractor to install pedestrian walkways at the site was at first discussed with the factory’s health and safety officer.

After the work was done managers realised a pillar needed to be removed, but it was considered an “ad hoc” job which could be carried out by in-house maintenance engineers. Unlike the earlier work this was done without any risk assessment being carried out.

Health and Safety Executive investigating inspector, Phil Redman, told the court: “Health and safety risk assessments for ad-hoc jobs were the exception rather than the rule.”  On July 24, 2008, as Mr Williams took a saw to the pillar which was secured to the floor and ceiling. Mr Redman said: “He made a second cut half a metre above the first, three quarters of the way through it became snagged.” Mr Williams then used a crowbar to try to pull the pillar from the ground but the upper section of the pillar came free from the ceiling causing the pillar to fall striking Mr Williams on the head.  Pauline Monroe, representing the food giant, said: “Premier Foods has a good safety record, and the Moreton factory has an exemplary one.”

She added that the company had moved quickly to increase and improve staff training and said that the court should consider the mitigating circumstances that the accident took place during work to improve the safety of its staff.

Ordering Premier Foods to pay a fine of £14,000 magistrates said they felt there had been a failure in the management structure.  Responding to the ruling Bob King, of Premier Foods, said: “Premier Foods sincerely regrets the accident at Manor Bakeries that resulted in the injury to Mr Williams. 

“Premier Foods has an excellent health and safety record and takes it responsibilities extremely seriously and steps have been taken to prevent a similar incident occurring.”  After the court hearing was over Mr Williams’ brother -in -law Andy porter said: “Premier Foods have finally accepted their responsibility for Tom’s accident when they appeared before the court and we are pleased that this has concluded the criminal side of the case. “Our lives have been devastated because of the firm’s disregard for Tom’s safety.

“But we have received valuable help from many people including Tom’s former workmates.“The court’s verdict gives us hope that our claim for compensation against Premier Foods, which we are pursuing with the backing of Tom’s union Unite, will succeed.”

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