An Essex-based construction company has been fined £2,667 and required to pay costs of £2,460.80, after an employee's legs were crushed.
Corvale, a shopfitting and joinery business from Harlow, was sentenced at Harlow Magistrates Court after an employee's legs were crushed under improperly stored MDF boards on 12 August 2009.
Barrington, 60, was a joiner from Chingford who had been working for Corvale for seven weeks. He was helping a colleague retrieve a large piece of MDF from the middle of a vertical storage stack by supporting several boards when he collapsed under the stack's weight.
The boards crushed him against a machine, with his knees taking the full impact. The incident caused ligament damage to both of Mr Barrington's knees, requiring surgery plus ongoing treatment and he has not been able to work since.
Upon investigation, HSE found that Corvale had breached health and safety at work regulations by failing to provide a safe system of work for the storage and management of MDF and other sheets of wood.
HSE inspector Vicky Fletcher said: "Workers should never have to put themselves at risk in order to carry out routine tasks as part of their work. This incident illustrates what can happen when employers fail to provide a safe working environment for their staff.
"In this case the boards tipped out of control because they were not being stored in a fixed racking system. Even though Corvale responded immediately, the incident would not have happened had they considered the risk earlier and taken action.
"HSE will not hesitate to prosecute companies who put staff at risk through their lack of respect of health and safety procedures."
The company admitted breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.