Allied Bakeries driver dies in loading accident

Related tags Allied bakeries Occupational safety and health Food

The latest in a series of serious accidents in UK bakeries resulted
in the death of a worker at an Allied Bakeries plant in Glasgow
last week, writes Lorraine Heller.

Graham Meldrum, who had been unloading empty bread trays from a truck, was found with his head trapped between the loading ramp and the vehicle.

Allied Bakeries, which could face a heavy fine if it is found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act, refused to comment on the incident as an investigation is currently underway by the police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the UK's industry inspection body.

HSE research has shown that bakeries are amongst the food industries with the highest injury rates. Other high injury industries include dairy/cheese manufacture and meat/poultry slaughtering.

UK supermarket giant Tesco last month faced a fine of £50,000 (€75,000) for breach of health and safety regulations after a worker in an in-store bakery lost the top of a finger in a bakery machine.

Just a week later, Russel Foods bakery was fined £25,000 (€37,500) when a worker's arm was amputated in a dough-milling machine.

Bakeries stand to sustain substantial losses if they do not comply with health and safety regulations, which cover machinery maintenance, handling methods and flour dust exposure levels.

Accidents in the food industry can represent up to 37 per cent of profit, 5 per cent of operating costs and 36 times the insured costs, according to the HSE. Other losses include legal penalties and loss of plant.

Nearly half the deaths in the food and drink industries result from transport-related accidents.

Injury numbers in bakeries have in fact dropped in the past years but are far from the goals set by the HSE. Between 1996/7 and 2003/4 the injury incidence rate for the bread and cake sector fell from 2317 to 1401, while for the preserved pastry/cake sector it fell from 1758 to 1526. However, the HSE still claims that 80 per cent of these accidents could be prevented through steps by management and action by workers.

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