multinational fined £18K for safety failings

Diageo's 'deep regret': Johnnie Walker Scotch distiller fined for worker injuries

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Diageo's 'deep regret': Scotch distiller fined for worker injuries

Related tags: Diageo, Johnnie walker

Diageo Scotland has been fined £18k for safety failings, after two workers were injured in falls at separate plants in Moray. 

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – the British regulator for workplace health and safety - said both incidents had the potential to be fatal and could have been avoided “had Diageo Scotland ensured its employees were adequately protected from the risks associated with their jobs.”

Diageo told BeverageDaily.com it has put extensive measures in place since the incidents – such as changes to working practices and additional training - to prevent future accidents.  

Robert Edwards found unconscious after 4m fall...

Robert Edward, then 51, was found unconscious after falling nearly four metres from a portable ladder at Burghead Maltings in King Street, Burghead, in January 2012.

He had been clearing a blockage inside a chute in a grain silo. He was taken to hospital with concussion, a cut to the head, and a dislocated finger. Although he had restricted movement in his hand he has returned to work.

In March 2012, Peter Douglas, then 43, fell more than two metres at Glenlossie Dark Grains Plant in Thomshill, Elgin. He had been standing on the engine bonnet of a loader shovel to wash the roof.

Douglas was taken to hospital with a bleed to the brain and shattered bone in his leg. His short term memory has been affected but he has returned to work.

The investigation by HSE said Diageo failed to take sufficient steps to prevent the use of ladders in unsafe circumstances, when clearing blockages at Burghead Maltings.

Diageo provided platform ladders for access but these were difficult to manoeuvre across the pipes and conveyors covering areas of the silo floor, and to get them past the lights and ducting on the ceiling, added HSE.

At the Glenlossie plant, HSE inspectors said instructions on how to wash the shovel were passed from one employee to the next during initial training to be an operator.

There was not a risk assessment or written instructions for cleaning the machine as Diageo assumed this would be done solely from the ground, they added.

The details of the investigation were heard at Elgin Sheriff Court yesterday (October 23).

Diageo 'failed to identify' lack of safe way of working - HSE

Diageo Scotland ( Lochside Way, Edinburgh Park, Edinburgh) was fined a total of £18,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 (for the Burghead incident) and Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (for the Glenlossie incident).

Niall Miller, principal inspector, HSE, said, “At Burghead Maltings, Diageo’s management was aware of the blockage issue; however they failed to identify that a safe method of working was not in place and that unsafe practices for clearing blockages had developed.

“At Glenlossie, a discussion with a loader shovel operator on how it was washed would have identified the dangers to employees. The risk assessment on the use of the loader shovel should also have considered the risks associated with its cleaning.

“In both cases Diageo had provided work at height training, which included risk assessment training, and believed their employees should be competent to plan and carry out work at height.

"However, it is not sufficient for health and safety instructions merely to be given to workers; employers must also ensure those instructions are carried out.”

Diageo has changed working practices

A spokesperson for Diageo said: “We deeply regret the two accidents that took place as we take the safety of our employees very seriously.

“Since both incidents occurred we have put extensive measures in place to ensure that accidents such as this do not occur again including changes to working practices and additional training.

“This will ensure that we can achieve our number one priority that all our employees and anyone visiting our sites goes home safely every day.”

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