Food warehouse flouted improvement notices

Birmingham City Council has prosecuted a food supplier after an inspector saw an employee raised up on a pallet balanced on a forklift truck.

On 5 December 2018 an officer visited Pearl Food Distribution and served a number of improvement notices to prevent people from falling from the mezzanine staircase landing, mezzanine storage locations and provide suitable loading bay gate on that level. The company was also required to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessments and provide employees with work at height training.

Three months later, an inspector returned to the Birmingham factory and saw an employee raised up on a pallet balanced on a forklift truck to pass items up to a mezzanine level. The officer also witnessed an employee using the loading bay incorrectly.

The company – which pleaded guilty to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act and Work at Height Regulations – was ordered to pay £64,392 plus court costs of £4222.

Councillor Philip Davis, chair of the city council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said: ‘Falling from height is a well known cause of serious or fatal injuries and balancing on a forklift to reach goods stored at a high level and failing to prevent a fall from height are good examples of where the health and safety of employees is not being protected in the workplace.

‘Our officers will continue to take action where basic standards of health and safety are not being met or, worse still, flouted.’

In 2017, the firm was fined £12,000 for food hygiene offences, after inspectors found rat and mouse urine and droppings in its warehouse.