Firm fined £14,000 over Merseyside man's crushed skull

Thomas Williams and his wife, Barbara
Image caption Thomas Williams spent six months in hospital after the accident at work

One of the UK's biggest food makers has been fined £14,000 after a Merseyside bakery worker had his skull crushed by a metal pillar.

Thomas Williams, 61, of Prenton, Wirral, was working at Premier Foods Group's Manor Bakeries in Moreton in July 2008 when the accident happened.

He suffered severe brain and spinal injuries and was permanently disabled.

Premier Foods Group Ltd, based in St Albans, admitted breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Mr Williams and a colleague had been removing cages and pillars from a storage area at the Reeds Lane site.

Permanent disability

The pair were levering a pillar free from its base when a 4m (13ft) section, weighing 65kg (143llbs), became detached from the ceiling and fell on Mr Williams' head.

Wirral Magistrates' Court heard that he suffered severe traumatic brain and spinal injuries and was in hospital for more than six months.

Image caption Mr Williams was working to free the pillar without specialist training

He now has difficulty speaking and moving and his wife has given up work to help to look after him.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the company had not properly planned the task and had not trained workers on how to carry out the work safely.

Premier Foods was fined and ordered to pay £6,808 costs, at a hearing on Thursday.

Phil Redman, HSE's investigating inspector, said: "A man's life has been turned upside down because basic health and safety procedures weren't followed.

"Mr Williams has been permanently disabled from his injuries and will never be able to return to work.

"Premier Foods could have brought in specialists to carry out the work but instead Mr Williams and a colleague were just told to get on with the job.

"Mr Williams did not have any previous experience of carrying out this kind of work, and he should not have been put in a position where he had to make decisions about how to do it."

Premier Foods, which last year made profits of £323.1m, owns brands including Hovis, Mr Kipling and Bisto.

A spokesperson for the company said: "Premier Foods sincerely regrets the accident at Manor Bakeries which resulted in the injury to Mr Williams.

"Premier Foods has an excellent health and safety record and takes its responsibilities extremely seriously, and steps have been taken to prevent a similar incident occurring."

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