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Walkers fined £20,000 after 63st block of Quavers fell on worker in Lincoln

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: September 20, 2012

Walkers Snack Foods Ltd in Newark Road, Lincoln

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Snackfood giant Walkers Crisps has been ordered to pay out more than £30,000 after a large block of compacted Quavers fell on a worker in Lincoln and broke his leg.

Blazej Lajdecki and a colleague were trying to move the crisp pellets from one bin to another at Walkers Snack Foods Ltd in Newark Road when the accident happened.

The Quavers, once advertised with the slogan "They're floaty light", had actually got wet and solidified into a solid block which weighed about 63 stones.

The block then became stuck as the workers tried to move it into the second bin, which tipped over and landed on Mr Lajdecki, breaking his lower left leg.

He was off work for 15 weeks following the injury on December 17, 2010, but has since returned to the company.

The firm has now been fined £20,000, plus a £15 victims' surcharge and £10,000.19 costs.

Lincoln Magistrates' Court heard that waste from the Quavers production line was fed into a large plastic magnum bin.

Steven Varley, prosecuting, said the idea was to turn the bin with a forklift, causing the solid block to fall out and be put in another container for disposal.

"The first magnum was successfully emptied," he said. "It transpired in the subsequent investigation that the second block was twice the size of the first one which had slipped in so easily."

Lawyer Rod Hunt, for Walkers, told Lincoln Magistrates' Court a lifting plan had been discussed and agreed.

"Walkers wishes to apologise to the court and all those involved for the breaches that were involved," he said.

"This incident did not occur out of any cost-cutting or reckless disregard for health and safety. There was no profit before safety here."

Mr Hunt added that immediate action was taken to avoid a repeat of the incident.

"Manufacturing was stopped for nine to ten hours so that all operatives could be properly briefed to ensure this does not happen again," he said.

The firm admitted failing to make a proper risk assessment on December 9, 2010, and the failure on December 16, 2010, in ensuring a lifting operation was properly planned, supervised or carried out safely.

HSE inspector Scott Wynne said after the hearing: "The task of devising a method to dispose of the waste pellets had been given to an agency worker who did not have the experience or training required to allow him to properly plan how the task should be carried out.

"As a result it was carried out without supervision and, as the injuries to the employee suggest, the task was not carried out in a safe manner."

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  • passtheparcel  |  October 02 2012, 2:18PM

    This sounds like a "wind up", the lightest, airiest flavor snack breaking a mans leg! But no, its true, in that case, its time Walkers reviewed all their safety procedures as regards their crisp/snack products. This could be the tip of the Walkers mountain! Its crunch time!

  • Gnome_Chomsky  |  September 20 2012, 9:47PM

    "£10,000.19 costs" Did the defence barrister have to supply a bag of Quavers to the magistrates so they knew what he was talking about?

  • Phil1W  |  September 20 2012, 5:58PM

    I've just remembered,(very senior moment), I worked at Walkers on the quavers production line long ago. These pellets were no flavour at all. The pellets arrive at the factory pre-made. They are then deep fried where they puff up into the light weight quavers we all know. The flavourings are added after frying. Now for a lie down!

    |   4
  • eatmygoal  |  September 20 2012, 5:37PM

    most (mst) adj. Superlative of many, much. 1. a. Greatest in number: won the most votes. b. Greatest in amount, extent, or degree: has the most compassion. 2. In the greatest number of instances: Most fish have fins.

    |   -7
  • gsx1100  |  September 20 2012, 4:34PM

    As most Quavers are cheese flavour..... apart from the salt and vinegar and prawn cocktail flavours!

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  • Lincoln_Biker  |  September 20 2012, 2:26PM

    "noticed they didn't mention what flavour it was" As most Quavers are cheese flavour, I'd take a gamble on this block being Bovril flavoured.

    |   -4
  • Phil1W  |  September 20 2012, 2:19PM

    Before much longer there will be reports of a company getting taken to court and fined because a H+S officer has seen someone lifting a sheet of A4 paper without training! Accidents happen and we learn from them! Fining a multi million pound firm like Walkers £20,000 achieves sweet nothing.

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  • Roadscource  |  September 20 2012, 1:17PM

    1. Since when have we weighed crisps in stones? 2. "The firm has now been fined £20,000, plus a £15 victims" - Whats the £15-00 for, the victim? or should i say 3 and 6d. 3. "The first magnum was successfully emptied" - I thought you could only drink on the job at a Brewery.

    |   -5
  • bobfinlayson  |  September 20 2012, 8:58AM

    I guess that's the risk you take when you agree to provide Chris Moyles with his weekly snack supply

    |   -4
  • muscadet  |  September 20 2012, 8:43AM

    Pity that it did'nt fall on Gary Lineker, as he was plugging their crisps on those awful adverts.

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