Global brewing company fined twice in one day
Two separate incidents at its Burton-on-Trent site have cost brewer Molson Coors more than £121,000 in total fines and costs.
The company, which says it is the UK’s largest brewer, appeared before Cannock magistrates on 4 August to answer charges in relation to two incidents at its Station Street site in 2008.
In the first, which occurred on 20 May, a delivery driver had arrived at the site to unload a trailer of empty cans. Peter Jackson, 64, was walking along the ‘hydro’ lines in the canning hall to find a space to deliver his load. As he walked down the side of the lines that was nearest the forklift truck route he was struck by one of the vehicles, which trapped his left leg beneath its forks.
Mr Jackson’s foot and left wrist were fractured and he has been unable to return to work since the incident.
Investigating HSE inspector found that the company had failed to fully act on advice provided in relation to workplace transport and pedestrian segregation during a previous visit to the site.
This incident occurred because of inadequate risk assessments, poor management and monitoring of contractors, and managers failing to understand their responsibilities for health and safety.
“Not only had poor workplace transport arrangements persisted over many years but Molson Coors also failed to follow previous advice from the HSE. As a result, Mr Jackson was seriously injured in an incident that could easily have been fatal.”
Molson Coors Brewing Company (UK) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the HSWA 1974, and reg.3(1) of the MHSWR 1999 for failing to protect its employees and non-employees from the risk of injury by workplace transport. It was fined £31,000 and ordered to pay the HSE’s full costs of £33,042.
In mitigation, the company said it had been in the process of implementing the HSE’s previous advice on workplace transport but hadn’t completed this effort by the time the incident occurred. It said this was its first health and safety conviction and its log of RIDDOR incidents had not flagged up any particular issue with workplace transport.
The second incident for which the company was prosecuted on the same day happened just over a month after the first – on 30 June 2008. Three sub-contractors from a specialist engineering company were undertaking maintenance work at the Station Street site, working on ‘clean in place’ plant.
The magistrates heard that the men should have carried out four isolations on the machine on which they were working, but they didn’t isolate a valve under the detergent tank.
As they were repairing the valve on a line running from the tank they were drenched in a liquid jet of caustic soda. In all, some 6000 litres of the chemical spilled out from the container.
The Inspector who also investigated this incident, told said that no risk assessment or method statement had been provided for the contractors. The workers had picked the job up from the maintenance log – a practice that had been followed for some time but which had not been addressed by Molson Coors.
The underlying causes between this incident and the first one are essentially the same – poor management, audit and review procedures, and lack of supervision. There was a lack of knowledge regarding what people were doing on the site.”
Although the contractors had been provided with visors the overalls they were issued with were made of cloth. One of the men was temporarily blinded, one suffered 25-per-cent burns, which have left him with scars and continuing sensitivity to heat, and the third suffered minor skin burns and irritation to his eyes.
Molson Coors pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the HSWA 1974 and was fined £14,000 plus full HSE costs of £43,674.
In its defence, it again offered its previously clear health and safety record and said it had acted promptly to ensure such an incident does not happen again, working with the HSE to develop a better Permit-to-Work system.
All companies must manage contractors properly and make sure that they are following health and safety procedures. They must also carry out proper risk assessments for any work that contractors are required to carry out.”