Muller UK fined £400k after worker’s fragile roof fall (SHP)

Dairy manufacturer, Muller UK and Ireland Group LLP, has been fined £400,000 after a worker suffered serious injuries when he fell 15 feet through a fragile roof panel.

The company was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court, after an investigation by the Health and safety Executive (HSE).

The Court heard that on the 8 July 2015, a worker was carrying out a routine job with two colleagues to change the refrigeration gas of the chilled storage units at the firm’s premises on Lake Road, Trafford Park. 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;
  • 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.

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, etc. Act 1974 and was fined £400,000 with £9,336.90 costs.

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”.

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