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Company heavily fined after worker suffers serious injuries in fall from brick kiln

by Redmans Solicitors on May 17, 2013

A company has been heavily fined after it breached UK health and safety laws.

This case demonstrates that companies should always take health and safety advice and employment law advice from expert professionals. A failure to apply proper health and safety standards in this particular incidence led to serious injuries to an employee.

A Cheshire-based company has been heavily fined by Darlington Magistrates Court after it found that it had committed serious breaches of health and safety which resulted in a potentially life-threatening injury to one of its employees.

Mr David Snow, 56, was working for Weinerberger Limited when the accident occurred on 18 January 2012. On the day in question Mr Snow was working as usual at the company’s brick-manufacturing plant in Bishop Auckland. He fell from the roof of one of the industrial brick ovens at the plant and suffered serious injuries to his skull and left leg, including a fractured skull and several breaks in his left leg. This resulted in Mr Snow having to undergo major reconstructive surgery and – a year later – still being unable to move without the aid of crutches or a wheelchair.

The accident happened on 18 January 2012 after Mr Snow, one of the kiln operators, had to climb on top of one of the ovens to release an exit door that had been jammed open since December 2012. As he tugged at the door he lost his balance and fell almost ten feet to the floor below, sustaining the above injuries. The HSE was notified of the accident and subsequently started an investigation. This investigation resulted in a recommendation that the company be prosecuted for a failure to adhere to health and safety regulations.

The matter came to court this week. Darlington Magistrates Court heard evidence that the company had failed to take any measures to prevent injuries to workers when they were compelled to work at heights and that the company had also failed to provide a safe system of work for employees who were attempting to un-jam the doors.

Weinerberger Ltd was found by the court (after the company pleaded guilty) to breaches of s.2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 in failing to provide a safe system of work for its employees. It was ordered to pay £4,190 in costs and was fined £13,500 as a result of the breach.

Chris Hadrill, an employment law solicitor at Redmans, stated after the result of the case that it “shows how life-changing breaches of health and safety can be. The company in this instance was found to be at fault for the injuries that Mr Snow sustained at work”.

It is not known whether Mr Snow is also pursuing a personal injury claim against the company.

If you’ve been injured in an injury at work then you may wish to pursue your employer for personal injury. If you choose to pursue a claim then it may be settled through a compromise agreement or you may have to go all the way to court to achieve justice.

Redmans Solicitors are employment law solicitors based in London

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