Bakery Company Fined £400,000 After Employee Has Left Leg Amputated

A food manufacturing company on the Wirral has been fined £400,000 after one of its employees had to undergo leg amputation.

Sharon Bramhall lost a leg following a serious incident at Baker & Baker Products, situated in Bromborough. The 58-year-old had to undergo amputation below the knee after an incident at the company’s premises on Stadium Road.

Baker and Baker Products, which produces a wide variety of baked goods, pleaded guilty and received sentencing at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court on 25th March 2024. In a statement provided to the court, Mrs Bramhall expressed feeling ‘fortunate’ it wasn’t more severe.

“I realise I could have lost my life,” she said.

“At times, I wake up and simply wish I had taken that night off work for any reason, and none of this would have occurred.”

The court learned how Mrs Bramhall had been overseeing four other staff members as they carried out high-level cleaning tasks during a night shift on 22nd April 2022. She had been acting as a ‘banksman’ for an employee who was operating a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP). As the MEWP turned 90 degrees into the warehouse, it collided with Sharon, resulting in her left leg being crushed. The incident was captured on CCTV.

She was hospitalised for three months and underwent a total of nine operations, including several skin grafts.

“I have a large scar on my stomach from where the surgeons took a piece of it to use as a flap over my stump.

“My left leg above my stump is severely scarred and damaged. It was trapped under the cherry picker.

“The recovery afterwards was dreadful.

“It’s hard to articulate just how much the accident has affected me. I have had to uproot and relocate my family.

“I am grappling with blistering on my stump, even now, which renders me wheelchair-bound. I cannot leave the house unaccompanied. I am apprehensive about what the future holds for me.”

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed a series of shortcomings by Baker & Baker Products UK Limited.

The company neglected to establish a suitable and sufficient safe system of work when guiding MEWPs from a parked position to the point of use. They also failed to provide information, instruction, and training for the movement of the MEWP and the use of a banksman, and also neglected their standard practice and company policy to ensure a trained MEWP operator acted as a banksman.

Had these measures been implemented, the incident could have been prevented.

Baker & Baker Products UK Limited, based in Stadium Road, Bromborough, Wirral, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) and 33(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £400,000 and was ordered to pay costs of £7,266. This HSE prosecution was initiated by HSE enforcement lawyers Karen Park and Matt Reynolds and paralegal officer Louisa Shaw.

Following the hearing, HSE inspector Ian Betley remarked: “Sharon Bramhall suffered terrible injuries that will affect her for the rest of her life due to the failings of her employer.

“Vehicles continue to be a major cause of serious injuries in the workplace, and the primary principle of any employer should be to keep people and vehicles apart.

“The risk assessment determined that someone was required to escort the MEWP, hence a safe system of work needed to be devised. Employees should have been provided with appropriate banksman training, including effective communication with the driver.

“Had these measures been in place, Sharon’s injuries could have been avoided.”