Two cases have recently hit the headlines in which company workers suffered injuries as a result of manual handling failures and as a result, the employers were handed out sizeable penalties.

Back Injuries Lead to HSE Prosecution

In November 2016, it was reported that a manufacturing company responsible for producing automotive parts for the likes of Jaguar Land Rover and Audi had been fined following reports that six of its employees had been forced to take time off work having sustained back injuries as a result of repeatedly lifting heavy objects.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stated that it had received six reports of workers from Mahle Powertrain having been absent for more than seven days due to back injuries. On investigating the issue, the HSE found that employees at one of two production lines were lifting engine parts weighing between 14 and 21 kilograms hundreds of times throughout just one shift. No manual lifting aids were provided or, of those that were, they were deemed unsuitable. Furthermore, no training had been provided on how to operate them and no adequate manual handling assessments had been carried out.

Burger King Franchise Fined After Worker Scalded

In another case reported in December the same year, a Burger King franchise in Ipswich operated by KFG Quickserve was fined after a young worker was scalded by hot oil.

The 18-year old had decanted the oil into a bucket and was carrying it up two flights of stairs to an outside disposal area when he slipped and spilt the oil onto his feet. There were numerous issues in play that led to the prosecution, including the fact that the oil was being transported hot instead of cold and that the bucket had no lid. The worker was not wearing personal protective clothing because it did not fit and in itself proved a safety hazard. Additionally, no manual handling aids were used and no site specific risk assessment was carried out that identified the hazard of transporting oil in buckets via steps.

The fine on levied on Mahle Powertrain was £183,340 and the costs totalled £21,277. For KFG Quickserve, the fines came to £166,660 plus £12,000 costs.

Tough New Penalties for Health and Safety Breaches

Both of these punishments reflect the new, tougher and vastly changed health and safety and food safety offence sentencing guidelines which came into force in February 2016 and applied to breaches on or after 12 March 2015. Under the guidelines, large companies in England and Wales can expect fines of up to £10 million for the most serious breaches, and magistrates’ courts are now able to impose unlimited fines for offences, whereas before they were limited to £20,000.

The message is clear: why take the risk of not following simple procedures, in ensuring risk assessments are undertaken and that staff are adequately trained in manual handling procedures? Not only could you face fines and costs which with the newly increased sentencing guidelines could be significant, you could also risk losing key parts of your workforce to ill health or injury, which will of course negatively affect productivity. In the Mahle Powertrain case, six workers had been absent for more than seven days, and the Burger King worker was forced to take more than a month off.

With Alistair Bromhead Ltd, you can book your employees onto a manual handling training course with full reassurance that it can be adapted to suit the specific needs of your organisation, which means that the particular risks your workforce faces will all be addressed during the training. The course contributes towards fulfilling your legal obligations and is delivered in an interactive and engaging manner. If manual handling aids are used, then we can incorporate those into the training.

Get in touch to find out more.