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North Yorks company fined £50,000 for safety breaches.

A North Yorkshire potato-processing company has been fined £50,000 for safety breaches after a worker was struck by a telehandler load.

The worker, Colin Smith, aged 62, was walking across the middle yard at Braegate Produce to the maintenance workshop on 5 January 2018, when he was struck by three potato boxes loaded on the tines of a telehandler operated by another member of staff, Leeds Crown Court heard.

The impact knocked Mr Smith to the ground and caused a fracture to his left leg.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the company had insufficient measures in place to prevent people being struck by a vehicle and that a protected walkway was provided to only two sides of the yard but not to a well-used pedestrian route on the right hand side between the production sheds and the engineering workshop.

The investigation also found that a large number of boxes had been stored in the yard and as a result pedestrians, including Mr. Smith, had to take a route further into the transport area than was usually necessary.

The company also failed to ensure forklift truck and telehandler operators understood the site rules with regard to the transportation of potato boxes and to effectively enforce these.

Braegate Produce Ltd of Mill Hill, Braegate Lane, Colton, Tadcaster pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Workplace (Health and Safety Welfare) Regulations 1991. The company was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £962 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector, Kate Dixon, said: “Companies need to organise transport operations to reduce the risk they pose to pedestrians. This should include consideration of the site, driver and vehicles. There are some quick, easy and inexpensive steps that can be implemented.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”