Cold storage firm prosecuted after worker trapped

A Nottinghamshire cold storage rental company that provides cold store and refrigeration solutions to sectors including foodservice has been fined £40,000 for two separate health and safety failings.

Dawsonrentals Portable Cold Storage Ltd was in court last week after a worker was trapped underneath a falling section of cold store and others developed hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).

An agency worker was struck by a section of portable cold store which toppled whilst being dismantled by the company three years ago.

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Kevin Rodgers, 37, from Mansfield, was trapped under an L-shaped section of a cold store which was surplus to requirements, whilst cutting up smaller sections of the cold store walls, which had already been removed.

Nottingham Crown Court heard Mr Rodgers suffered four broken metatarsals in his right foot, and was off work for a number of months.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found the dismantling process had not been properly risk assessed by the company. There was inadequate training for workers carrying out this task, and insufficient supervision of their work.

HSE inspector, Stuart Pilkington, said: “The accident is a case of non-routine work not being properly planned and risk assessed. Mr Rodgers was lucky not to suffer far more serious injuries and the incident shows the importance of training temporary workers and ensuring they are properly supervised.”

A separate investigation was conducted after several employees were reported to be suffering from various stages of Hand-arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) after working for the company.

HAVS can develop from the over-use of hand-held power tools and is the cause of significant ill health. This can include painful and disabling disorders of the blood vessels, nerves and joints.

One case was shown to be so severe that the worker was unable to do his job any longer.

HSE’s investigation identified that workers were using power tools for significant periods of time. The company failed to adequately assess the risk to employees’ health from the use of vibrating tools over a number of years.

Although the issue of hand-arm vibration had been raised since 2005, it was not until the ill health was identified in November 2011 that they introduced adequate controls, including monitoring and restricting the use of specific tools.

Dawson Rental Portable Cold Storage pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc act 1974 and was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 costs.

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