Company fined after fall at work

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A Bedford grain milling company has been prosecuted after a worker was injured in a fall during the night shift.

Mark Askham, 45, fell nearly three metres on to concrete after he climbed pipework to unblock a feed pipe at European Oat Millers Ltd in Mile Road.

Mr Askham, of Putnoe, Bedford, suffered broken ribs, cuts and bruising in the incident on February 26 last year.

Bedford Magistrates’ Court heard on Wednesday that an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the incident could have been avoided had the company put basic measures in place to protect workers against falls from height.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Emma Rowlands said: “This incident was entirely preventable. Mr Askham’s injuries could have been far more serious than they were.

“European Oat Millers Ltd had made a commitment some years earlier to review all work at height activities, yet there was no evidence that had been carried out.

“You do not have to fall from a great height to either lose or ruin your life. Work at height remains one of the most significant causes of fatalities and major injuries among employees.

“Employers who put people at risk of serious injury or illness can expect to face enforcement action and for the worst offences criminal prosecution through the courts.”

The court heard that Mr Askham had pinpointed the blockage to a pipe in the basement of the nine-storey mill.

With no ladder or platform available, he climbed on nearby pipework and sat on one of the pipes to reach the blockage.

He lost his balance and fell three metres, hitting pipes below, before landing on the ground.

European Oat Millers Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The firm was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £3,712 in costs.