A food warehouse has been fined £60,000 after pleading guilty to four offences under health and safety legislation at Birmingham Magistrates Court yesterday.

Birmingham City Council prosecuted Pearl Food Distribution Ltd – based at Unit 33 Middlemore Industrial Estate, Middlemore Road, Birmingham – after a safety inspector saw an employee raised up on a pallet balanced on a forklift truck to pass items up to a mezzanine level during a visit 7 March 2019 to sign off Improvement Notices.

The officer also witnessed an employee using the loading bay incorrectly.

The company – which pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing (10 December 2020) and prosecuted under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Work at Height Regulations 2005 – was ordered to pay £64,392 during today’s sentencing at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court including the fine, court costs of £4,222 and £170 victim surcharge.

The prosecution was brought following an inspection 5 December 2018, when a number of Improvement Notices were served on the company, to prevent people from falling from the mezzanine staircase landing, mezzanine storage locations and provide suitable loading bay gate on that level.

Pearl Food Distribution Ltd was also required to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessments and provide employees with work at height training.

Councillor Cllr Philip Davis, Chair of the city council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said:

“Falling from height is a well-known cause of serious or fatal injuries and balancing on a forklift to reach goods stored at a high level and failing to prevent a fall from height are good examples of where the health and safety of employees is not being protected in the workplace.

“Our officers will continue to take action where basic standards of health and safety are not being met or, worse still, flouted.”

In 2017, the company was also fined over £16,000 for food hygiene offences after inspectors found rat and mouse urine and droppings in its warehouse.

Inspectors from Sandwell Council had discovered that food and boxes had been “gnawed” through at the warehouse, which officers said had a strong smell of rodent urine and a lack of cleaning at the site.

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