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£400,000 fine for fridge engineer’s fall

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UK: A dairy company has been fined £400,000 after a refrigeration engineer fell 15ft (4.6m) through a fragile roof panel.

Muller UK and Ireland Group was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court after an investigation by the Health and safety Executive (HSE) into the incident at the Robert Wiseman plant in Lake Road, Trafford Park, Manchester, on July 8, 2015.

The Court heard that a worker was carrying out a routine job with two colleagues to change the refrigerant of the chilled storage units at the firm’s premises. They were working in the roof void of the chilled store building above the chilled units. One of the workers stood on a fragile fire board panel at the edge of the roof space and fell down the void between the chilled unit and the building shell. He suffered injuries to his head and body.

HSE’s investigation found that the workers had not been given any information from the company about the fragile roof panels in the void, despite having worked there on a number of previous occasions.


It was found that the company had failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment prior to permitting access to the area and failed to share information about the presence of the fragile panels prior to the work being undertaken. The fragile panels were not clearly visible, had no warning markings and there were no barriers to prevent access to fragile areas.

HSE inspector Jane Carroll said after the hearing: “This case highlights how important it is that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is undertaken for all work at height and work within roof voids, to identify the potential for fragile panels to be present. Falls from height through fragile roofs remain a common cause of life changing or fatal injuries for individuals at work”.

Muller UK and Ireland Group LLP, of Tern Valley Business Park, Shrewsbury Road, Market Drayton, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £400,000 with £9,336.90 costs.

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