A cheese company in Nantwich has been fined for safety failings after a worker was injured falling off a forklift truck.

Bosses of Joseph Heler Ltd, based at Hatherton, were prosecuted after the 53-year-old employee from Crewe was injured during an unsafe loading operation.

The victim suffered leg and ankle injuries after he plunged off the forks of a forklift truck at the company’s plant on Crewe Road, Hatherton.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) took the company to court following the incident in July 2012.

And yesterday, they were fined £8,000 at Chester magistrates court over the incident.

The injured worker, aged 53, who has asked not to be named, was helping to load cheese onto a wagon so it could be delivered to a customer.

He was being lifted up to the wagon, with one foot on each prong on the forklift, when the forks hit the back of the vehicle and jolted.

He fell around a metre to the ground below, suffering cuts to his left leg and multiple fractures to his ankle.

An HSE investigation found it had become common practice for people to be lifted on forklift prongs.

And despite this being illegal, the company had failed to identify it as an issue.

The court was told that no risk assessment had been carried out for the work and no other method for accessing the wagons was available.

Following the incident, the company provided steps to reach the back of the vehicles, and it has since changed the way it prepares deliveries altogether.

Joseph Heler Ltd was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £709.15 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

HSE Inspector Jane Carroll said: “The injuries suffered by the worker could easily have been life-threatening had he struck his head when he fell.

“His employer regularly allowed workers to stand on the forks on forklift trucks, despite this being illegal and posing a clear risk.

“Joseph Heler failed to give its employees any guidance on how they should access and load the wagon, and failed to put systems in place to make sure the risk of injury was minimised.

“The changes the company has made following the incident show it would have been possible for the work to be carried out safely.”

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