Walkers fined £20,000 after 63st block of Quavers fell on worker in Lincoln
Snackfood giant Walkers Crisps has been ordered to pay out more than £30,000 after a large block of compacted Quavers fell on a worker in Lincoln and broke his leg.
Blazej Lajdecki and a colleague were trying to move the crisp pellets from one bin to another at Walkers Snack Foods Ltd in Newark Road when the accident happened.
The Quavers, once advertised with the slogan "They're floaty light", had actually got wet and solidified into a solid block which weighed about 63 stones.
The block then became stuck as the workers tried to move it into the second bin, which tipped over and landed on Mr Lajdecki, breaking his lower left leg.
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He was off work for 15 weeks following the injury on December 17, 2010, but has since returned to the company.
The firm has now been fined £20,000, plus a £15 victims' surcharge and £10,000.19 costs.
Lincoln Magistrates' Court heard that waste from the Quavers production line was fed into a large plastic magnum bin.
Steven Varley, prosecuting, said the idea was to turn the bin with a forklift, causing the solid block to fall out and be put in another container for disposal.
"The first magnum was successfully emptied," he said. "It transpired in the subsequent investigation that the second block was twice the size of the first one which had slipped in so easily."
Lawyer Rod Hunt, for Walkers, told Lincoln Magistrates' Court a lifting plan had been discussed and agreed.
"Walkers wishes to apologise to the court and all those involved for the breaches that were involved," he said.
"This incident did not occur out of any cost-cutting or reckless disregard for health and safety. There was no profit before safety here."
Mr Hunt added that immediate action was taken to avoid a repeat of the incident.
"Manufacturing was stopped for nine to ten hours so that all operatives could be properly briefed to ensure this does not happen again," he said.
The firm admitted failing to make a proper risk assessment on December 9, 2010, and the failure on December 16, 2010, in ensuring a lifting operation was properly planned, supervised or carried out safely.
HSE inspector Scott Wynne said after the hearing: "The task of devising a method to dispose of the waste pellets had been given to an agency worker who did not have the experience or training required to allow him to properly plan how the task should be carried out.
"As a result it was carried out without supervision and, as the injuries to the employee suggest, the task was not carried out in a safe manner."