A DAIRY has been fined £10,000 for safety failings after a worker suffered life-changing injuries in a fall.

Simon Atkinson, 41, of Dipton, County Durham, had been unloading empty milk bottles from a vehicle at Lanchester Dairies Ltd’s site, in Lanchester, when the incident happened on September 6 last year.

Peterlee magistrates were told he suffered a fractured an eye socket, bleeding in his skull, multiple collar bone fractures and a broken rib.

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Mr Atkinson was in hospital for nine days, where he had to be put into an induced coma until surgery was carried out to remove a blood clot.

He has been unable to return to work since his fall and is awaiting further surgery to repair damage to his spine.

Mike Kingston, representing the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said an investigation found that despite a risk assessment identifying a “likely” risk of fall, there were no measures in place to prevent one.

Mr Atkinson had been unloading the bottles into a storage area set 1.6m below ground level of the outside yard. His fall was either from ground level or from the rear of the delivery vehicle, which would have been 2.6m above the concrete floor of the storage area.

Mr Atkinson was alone at the time of the incident, but because of his head injury had no recollection of the fall, the court heard.

Mr Kingston said a barrier had previously been in place across the doorway to the storage area to prevent falls, but this had been removed two years earlier and never replaced.

A risk assessment for the company, carried out nine months before the incident, had said a safe system of work and training was needed for the unloading task, but this was not carried out until after Mr Atkinson’s fall.

Simon Morgan, mitigating, said the dairy had been paying over £7,000 a year to specialist health and safety advice company, which had not picked that the barrier had not replaced after a refurbishment.

He added: “Lanchester Dairies has a strong health and safety ethos and hasn’t skimped on it and is always striving to improve.

“As as part of that improvement they dismissed services of the previous advisers (several months before the accident), who clearly were not doing their job.”

Lanchester Dairies Ltd, which pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations, was ordered to pay £1,690 in costs.