A WIRRAL-based food factory has been ordered to pay £14,000 after a worker suffered life-changing injuries.

National manufacturers Premier Foods, which has a site at Manor Bakeries in Moreton, was given the fine by Wirral Magistrates for breaching Health and Safety law.

The court heard last Thursday afternoon, that father-of-six Tom Williams, from Prenton, was working at the factory when a section of a metal pillar fell on his head on July 24 2008.

He had been carrying out a task with other employees to move cages and pillars to create a "segregation area" between pedestrians and forklift trucks.

The work had initially been arranged to be done by outside contractors but this particular task was given 'in-house' to Mr Williams and his colleagues.

Following the accident Mr Williams, who worked as fitter and engineer at the firm, spent seven months in hospital, six weeks of which were in intensive care.

Phil Redman, HM Inspector of Health and Safety, told the court: "The four metre beam that fell from the ceiling and struck Mr Williams has caused life-changing injuries. It is clear that Premier Foods failed in its duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees while at work. There was no risk assessment done for the removal of the cages and pillars and no additional training was given to workers.

"The company were very quick put appropriate procedures in place after the accident. And I am confident that had these measures been in place before, then Mr Williams would not have been injured."

Representing Premier Foods, Pauline Monroe said: "The company deeply regrets this accident. But it is fair to say that it was a one-off and was a very isolated incident.

"Premier Foods takes health and safety very seriously and all staff are given full briefing of the company's policy upon induction. The company accepts that a risk assessment should have been undertaken prior to this particular task being carried out."

Mr Williams, 61, who had worked at Manor Bakeries for 34 years, now lives with severe brain and spinal injuries and struggles to communicate with his family.

His brother-in-law, Andy Porter, told the Globe how the incident has affected the entire family and how, in the two years since it happened, Mr Williams has shown little signs of improvement.

Mr Porter said: "It is very frustrating for both him and us, as a family. He can no longer communicate properly with us and his wife Barbara has had to give up work to care for him round the clock. It has been devastating for us to see him like this."

Handing the £14,000 fine to the food giant, Wirral magistrate Miss J Parry, said: "We deeply regret the distress and injuries caused to Mr Williams and believe that there was a failure in the management structure and assessment of this task."

Speaking outside the court, Mr Porter told of his disappointment that the company had not been fined more due to the seriousness of his brother-in-law's condition.

He said: "Premier Foods have finally accepted their responsibility for Tom's accident before the court. And we are pleased that this has concluded the criminal side of the case.

"This verdict gives us hope that our claim for full compensation against the company, which we are pursuing with the backing of Tom's union Unite, will succeed as currently the firm says that Mr Williams was in part to blame for what happened to him."

Unfortunately, we published a picture of the Burton's Foods factory instead of Manor Bakeries in the Globe this week in relation to this story.

We apologise to the Burton company for our mistake and are happy to put the record straight.

Leigh Marles, Editor.