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Firm fined after employee suffers life-changing injuries in fall

Lanchester Dairies Ltd in County Durham has been prosecuted for safety failings after a worker suffered life-changing injuries after a fall.

What happened?

Simon Atkinson, 41, of Dipton, had been unloading empty milk bottles from a vehicle into a storage area set 1.6m below ground level of the outside yard of the Lanchester Dairies site.

He was alone at the time of the incident but because he sustained a head injury, he had no recollection of the fall. His fall was either from ground level or from the rear of the delivery vehicle which was 2.6m above the concrete floor of the storage area.

A barrier had formerly been in place across the doorway to the storage area to prevent falls but this had been removed 2 years earlier and never replaced.

A risk assessment for the company, carried out 9 months before the incident, had stated that a safe system of work and training was needed for unloading the vehicle but this was not implemented until after Mr Atkinson’s fall.

He fractured an eye socket, sustained bleeding in his skull, had multiple collar bone fractures, a broken rib and had to be put in an induced coma until surgery was carried out to remove a blood clot from inside his skull.

He was in hospital for 9 days and has been unable to return to work since his fall. He is awaiting further surgery to repair damage to his spine.

What was the outcome?

An investigation into the incident found that despite a risk assessment identifying a ‘likely’ risk of a fall, there were no measures in place to prevent one.

Lanchester Dairies Ltd was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1,690 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

HSE Inspector, Michael Kingston, said:

“Lanchester Dairies was aware that the work being done by
Mr Atkinson and others, involved a fall risk, yet
they failed to implement simple, inexpensive
measures to prevent it.

“Falls from height are one of the main causes of major
injury and death in the workplace.

“This case reinforces the need to properly assess the
risks and to put in place measures to
prevent falls occurring.”

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

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