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Warburtons fined £2m over worker’s mixing machine fall

Bakery giant Warburtons has been fined £2m after a worker fell nearly 2 m during a routine task at the company’s Wednesbury factory in the West Midlands.

Warburtons fined £2m over worker’s mixing machine fall
©Hoskins/ Associated Newspapers/REX/Shutterstock

Andrew Sears was cleaning a mixing machine on 11 November 2013 when he lost his footing. He sustained a spinal compression fracture and was unable to return to work until the end of the following year. He was dismissed in December 2015 after another long period of sick leave. 

Wolverhampton Crown Court was told that Sears carried out this job as often as every few weeks. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that Warburtons routinely expected employees to clean the mixers by accessing the top of them, though the workers felt unsafe doing so. 

It found there was no adequate supervision on site and the family-owned business had failed to train its staff how to clean equipment at height. 

Warburtons pleaded guilty to breaching reg 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations. It was fined and ordered to pay costs of over £19,600.  

After the hearing HSE inspector Mahesh Mahey said: “This case highlights how important it is for companies to fully assess the risks from work activities at height and to take appropriate action to prevent injury in the workplace. Mr Sears’ life has been changed forever but his injuries could have been more severe."


Keeley Downey was the former assistant editor of IOSH Magazine. Previously she was editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine


  • Why does it never say if any

    Permalink Submitted by Don Pleasants on 25 January 2017 - 06:07 pm

    Why does it never say if any of the substantial damages have been awarded to the injured parties.Although I realise they can make a personal injury claim themselves,it will not reach £2m especially once law firms get their percentage.

  • In this instance we are faced

    Permalink Submitted by Alan on 1 February 2017 - 03:30 pm

    In this instance we are faced with a criminal hearing as a result of breaches to said regulations. In order for the individual to claim compensation he/she would have to go through the civil courts which is a separate entity as far the legal system is concerned. With criminal hearings we are faced with fines of certain amounts, unlimited fines and custodial sentences, with the civil courts the affected person is awarded based on several associated factors, this is why we don't usually hear about the total amounts paid out to the injured parties.

  • Hi Don, Alan is right, the

    Permalink Submitted by Louis_Wustemann on 13 February 2017 - 09:17 am

    Hi Don, Alan is right, the civil claims associated with corporate safety breaches follow a separate course through the courts. Occasionally in the criminal cases where an individual is charged, such as a director, the court will award a victim surcharge and we will always report that where we have details. But it's usually small amounts.

    The individual compensation settlements seldom come to light unless the individuals concerned give their solicitors permission to publicise them.


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