Employee’s fall lands salad growing business in court
Essex-based salad growing company, Valley Grown Nurseries Ltd, has appeared in court after one of its employees suffered injuries when she had to jump from a runaway mobile working platform at the company’s nurseries in Nazeing.
During one of her shifts, Zofia Jurek found herself having to jump from a moving platform at a height of about 1.4 metres, as it moved rapidly down a ramp and towards a greenhouse door.
The employees were using these platforms in order to reach bell peppers which were as high up as three metres.
The platforms had been designed to run on level ground, and were not fitted with brakes. On the day of the accident Ms Jurek had been picking bell peppers near the top of a ramp leading to a greenhouse.
When she was near to the slope she moved the platform across the aisle to reach the opposite row of pepper plants, setting the controls so that the platform would travel away from the ramp.
She pressed the accelerator, but the platform moved towards and down the ramp instead. In an attempt to stop it from hitting the greenhouse door, she jumped off the trolley, but landed on the concrete floor and was knocked unconscious.
The 63-year-old fractured her skull, resulting in a brain hemorrhage, and broke a heel which later needed metal plates.
The injuries Ms Jurek sustained have affected her balance, her hearing and her ability to read. As well as being tender and painful to touch, it has also left her unable to smell or taste anything, and she is still unable to return to work.
The court heard that Valley Grown Nurseries Ltd hasn’t identified the risks that the sloped floor posed to employees using the platforms. Additionally, the platforms themselves were found to need numerous repairs and better guard rails to prevent falls.
What was the outcome?
Valley Grown Nurseries Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £22,000 and ordered to pay £8,830 in costs.
HSE Inspector, Sue Matthews, said:
“Work at any height is inherently very risky, and it has to be
properly planned, controlled and supervised.
“Valley Grown Nurseries Ltd failed to take inexpensive and simple
precautions which would have prevented Ms Jurek’s injuries.
The risk to workers using trolleys near to the ramp was
known to the company but no action was taken to
provide adequate protection.
“Employers must always assess the risks to employees at work and
take the necessary steps to ensure their safety. This worker
sustained a serious head injury and is still unable to
return to work as a direct result of Valley Grown
Nurseries Ltd’s failure to manage the risks
of this operation.”
If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email [email protected]
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