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Karro Food’s £1.8m fine after workers fall through roof light

A Yorkshire food manufacturer has been fined £1.8m after two employees sustained serious injuries after falling through a roof light while fixing a leaky roof.

Karro Food’s £1.8m fine after workers fall through roof light, Yorkshire
Image credit: HSE

The incident occurred in April 2016 when the workers had climbed up on the roof of a pig processing plant at Karro Food’s Malton site to fix the leak over an area where the live animals enter the abattoir.

The roof, made of asbestos cement, had several roof lights set into it made of plastic sheeting to originally allow light into the building. The roof lights were not visible from the inside because of the presence of an inner skin and could not be seen from the outside due to a build-up of moss and dirt that had accumulated over the years. 

The accident happened when the two men, who were walking closely together, stepped on the same roof light, which then gave way under their weight plunging them 4 m onto the floor below

One worker sustained four fractured ribs, a punctured lung and muscular contusions to his outer right thigh. The other sustained a fractured skull, muscular injuries to his right leg and injuries inside his ear which caused ongoing problems with his balance, memory and mental health.

HSE inspector Mark Slater said the company was aware of the fragility of the roof and the presence of the roof lights due to a historic asbestos survey having been carried out.  However, the workers did not know it was an asbestos roof or the risks posed by the roof lights before climbing onto it.

“With asbestos cement and asbestos roofs, you have to presume them to be fragile until you can prove otherwise as it is known they lose integrity over time. When work at height is carried out we expect the company to know the state of the roof and carry out risk assessments to ensure safe systems of work are in place,” he said.  

The investigation found that there were systemic failings in the company when it came to work at height and that although there were health and safety procedures in place, the food manufacture’s application had faded away over quite a long period of time.

Karro Food, of Hugden Way, Norton Grove Industrial Estate, Malton, Yorkshire pleaded guilty to breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The food manufacturer has been fined £1.87m and must pay £8,019 costs.

A spokesperson from Karro Food said: “Karro Food accepts the fine imposed by the court following the Health and Safety Executive’s investigation and the company’s early guilty plea in this case. 

“Although the company is disappointed with the fine being set at the upper level of high culpability, given its previous positive record, good character, compliance with the HSE during the investigation and prompt action taken to make improvements to our existing systems and facilities following the incident, we are grateful to the court for recognising these factors in its judgment. 

“As a responsible local employer Karro Food has, and continues to, support the two valued members of staff injured in this incident.”

Culpability High
Seriousness of harm risked Level A
Likelihood of harm High
Harm category 1
Size or organisation Large
Turnover £470m
Starting point for fine £3m, rose to £3.5m because of turnover then reduced because of mitigating circumstances and then a third off for pleading guilty at earliest opportunity.
Mitigation Since the accident, the company has reviewed its health and safety procedures, implemented training, checked structures and invested in health and safety procedures
Penalty £1.87m plus £8,019 costs


 

Stuart Spear, freelance journalist specilaising in environmental and public health
Stuart Spear is a freelance journalist specialising in environmental and public health who has over the past 20 years edited a number of specialist environmental health magazines.

Comments

  • It is depressing to find

    Permalink Submitted by Jeffrey Smith on 26 March 2019 - 01:34 pm

    It is depressing to find that, after so many warnings having been given and so many deaths or serious injuries having occurred, existing fragile roofs are still not highlighted on so many buildings. At least the two seriously injured people were not killed.

    reply
  • For that money they coul

    Permalink Submitted by Julian Burn on 27 March 2019 - 10:04 am

    For that money they could have hired two safety chaps, one to each employee to stand beside them making sure they didn't do anything stupid, like walk on the roof lights, and still been over a million quid up on the deal. When will companies learn?

    reply
  • Another incident occurre

    Permalink Submitted by Andy Nother on 1 May 2019 - 12:37 pm

    Another incident occurred at the same site only 3 or 4 weeks back involving 2 contract engineers cutting through 4000 volt electricity cables in a plant room, working alone and unsupervised with serious injuries as a consequence.... Obviously lessons have not been learned by what would appear to be a completely inept and incompetent senior management team.

    reply

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