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Window company ordered to pay nearly £40,000 after employee was crushed by 3000kg stillages

A DOORS and windows manufacturer has been ordered to pay nearly £40,000 after a worker broke both of his legs and was crushed while moving a 3,000kg stack of pallets.

On January 9, 2020, a worker, with two other employees of Sovereign Group Ltd in Nelson, was trying to move a stack of three stillages in the despatch area.

Whilst manoeuvring the stillages away from the aisle, the staff members attempted to push them into a gap.

At that point, the stack of stillages, which weighed three tonnes, fell over onto the employee breaking both of his legs and causing ligament damage.

The incident has caused lasting injuries which affect everyday life and the employee has not been able to return to work.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had no formal safe system of work in place and the operatives had developed their own system for swapping stillages, which involved unsafe lifting operations.

The method adopted by the company was not safe and employees were not adequately trained or instructed, the HSE found.

The despatch area was heavily congested at the time of the incident and poorly laid out for the stillages to be stored safely.

Sovereign Group Ltd of Vale Street, Nelson, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court.

The company was fined £33,333 and ordered to pay costs of £5,191.58. It has until May 18, 2023, to pay.

HSE principal inspector Lisa Bailey said after the hearing: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to ensure they provide safe methods of working and a safe working environment.

“If suitable controls had been in place the serious physical injuries sustained by this employee could easily have been prevented.”

The company declined to comment.