Drumlithie grain firm fined following worker’s fall

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A LOCAL animal grain company has been fined £4000 after one of its workers fell from an excavator bucket onto a concrete floor, sustaining head injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has condemned Drumlithie based East Coast Viners Grain LLP saying the incident was “entirely preventable” and could have had much more serious consequences.

Douglas Mortimer, a mill operative employed by the company, was preparing animal feed on December 9, 2009 when the incident took place.

The task involved him climbing into an excavator bucket to shake the contents of a tote bag, allowing an even spread of feed into the excavator bucket.

However, he lost his balance and fell approximately five feet onto the concrete floor below, receiving a cut to his head which needed to be stapled, and losing consciousness for a several minutes. He was kept in hospital overnight for observation.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work 1974 Act at Stonehaven Sheriff Court last week.

The HSE investigation found that there was no safe system of work in place for preparing the specialist mix and said the method used by Mr Mortimer was unsafe because it involved employees working unnecessarily at height with no control measures to prevent them from falling.

The investigation also revealed that the company had not carried out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks involved because this was a task that was required only occasionally.

Following the decision, HSE Inspector Colin Leaver, said: “What happened to Mr Mortimer was entirely preventable and could have easily resulted in him being killed.

“East Coast Viners already had a grain conveyor on site which would have allowed Mr Mortimer to safely decant the maize from the ground, avoiding any need to work at height.

“There is no excuse for the company not to have carried out a straightforward risk assessment, nor to have agreed procedures for how this work was to be carried out safely.”

The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to prevent death, injury and ill health.