A restaurant chain has been fined £18,000 after a sous chef was injured when he plunged down an open cellar hatch.
Gary Lally suffered broken ribs and a damaged foot after the accident at The Hale Bar and Grill in Altrincham.
Blackhouse Restaurants, which owns and operates the venue, admitted two health and safety offences, one relating to the welfare of an employee and another to a delivery man.
Concerns about the hatch, which covered a seven foot drop into the cellar, were first raised by environmental health officers seven years ago, but the manager they spoke to left two weeks later after their visit and no action was taken.
According to the Manchester Evening News, Mr Lally’s accident occurred when the duty manager took a beer delivery and opened the hatch in the restaurant.
In a statement he said he shouted to colleagues to be careful but they later said they did not hear him. He also placed a bin at the kitchen entrance to block it.
At first, the manager stood guard over the open hatch but left to answer the phone. When Mr Lally walked through the kitchen he fell into the hole.
Mr Lally was off work for two weeks but continues to be employed at the restaurant, having been promoted to head chef. He is also taking civil action against his bosses, the court heard.
Delivery man Patrick Rowley also narrowly avoided the hole. He said in a statement: “I had to step around the cellar hatch. I thought it was dangerous as there were no signs.”
Trafford Magistrates ordering the firm to pay a fine of £12,000 and costs of £6,000, concluding: “Although the actual harm was not too serious, the potential for serious harm did exist.”