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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 August 2007, 13:16 GMT 14:16 UK
Frozen food firm's safety breach
Vaughan Guest (left and Patrick Brindley (right)
Vaughan Guest (left) and Patrick Brindley were both driving trucks
One of Wrexham's biggest companies has been ordered to pay 33,000 in fines and costs after two forklift truck drivers were badly injured.

Frozen food firm Pann Krisp said it had "learned lessons" after it admitted two breaches of the Health and Safety Act.

Wrexham Magistrates heard how Vaughan Guest suffered two broken legs when run over by another forklift truck.

Only 11 days before, Patrick Brindley had suffered back injuries when his pallet truck fell from a trailer.

The court heard how the first incident, involving Mr Brindley, occurred on 3 July 2005.

The company had experienced problems with the roof on its cold store, and had instead installed refrigerated trailers which were parked in loading bays.

This case shows a complete lack of planning and thought by the management
Stephen Window, HSE

Air suspension systems were activated to raise the level of the trailers so that they became level with the loading bays, allowing loading trucks to enter the trailers via "fixing bridges".

However, the court heard the company had been experiencing problems with the suspension systems leaking overnight, causing trailers to drop below the level of the loading bay.

As Mr Brindley drove a pallet truck from the trailer, the truck slipped between the loading bay and the trailer.

Simon Parrington, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said Mr Brindley was "dropped in a standing position with his feet pointing down".

Mr Parrington said Mr Brindley was left with back injuries after being trapped "like a ballet dancer" with his legs absolutely straight.

Vaughan Guest
Vaughan Guest does not know if he can return to work

The court heard the company was aware of the leaking air suspension problem, and the accident was "wholly foreseeable and avoidable".

District judge Andrew Shaw fined the company 10,000, with 2,385 costs.

Mr Brindley has since returned to work.

The second, and more serious incident occurred 11 days later, when forklift truck driver Mr Guest was trying to pick up some pallets which had fallen from his vehicle.

Mr Guest was struck by another forklift truck coming in the opposite direction. Both his legs were broken and it was feared one might have to be amputated.

He spent four months in hospital and does not know if he will return to work.

The court heard Mr Guest was working in a narrow area which was not suitable for two forklift trucks.

Judge Mr Shaw fined the company 15,000 with 6,311 costs, adding that he had taken into consideration guilty pleas for both incidents.

Stephen Window the investigating officer for the HSE said outside court: "This case shows a complete lack of planning and thought by the management.

As a company our first priority is always the safety and well-being of our colleagues, and we deeply regret both instances
Pann Krisp

"These trucks are not toys - they weigh tonnes and can be lethal."

The court heard both incidents had occurred while the company had introduced temporary operating systems, and safer measures had been implemented.

Pann Krisp, which has a turnover of around 23m was taken over two years ago by food group Fenmark, based in Cambridgeshire.

In a statement, the company said: "We would firstly like to extend our sympathy to both Pat and Vaughan for the injuries suffered and will continue to support the rehabilitation of Vaughan in all ways that we can.

"As a company our first priority is always the safety and well-being of our colleagues, and we deeply regret both instances."

The statement said the company had learned lessons from both accidents and was continually assessing and improving its safety policies.

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