‘Apparent failures’ of medical staff led to death of tragic accident victim

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The tragic death of a yard porter had more to do with the NHS than the food firm he worked for but the company still has to pay a £176,000 fine.

Father-of-one Jim McLean (57), from Airth, had been helping to re-stack a pallet of trays at Caledonian Produce in Bridgeness Road, Bo’ness, when the column – which was 44 cases high – was knocked towards him by a second pallet of trays being delivered by forklift.

The incident, which took place on March 22, 2016, happened as workers at the firm, part of the giant London-based Bakkavor Group which supplies prepared foods and salads to the UK’s top retailers, were unloading the first lorry of the day.

Mr McLean was thrown off his feet and hit the back of his head off the ground, briefly losing consciousness and sustaining a head injury described as “mild” and “survivable”.

He was taken to the Forth Valley Royal Hospital and transferred to the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh where he was treated for a fractured skull and discharged without surgery.

At a hearing at Falkirk Sheriff Court on Tuesday it was stated Mr McLean – in contravention of hospital protocols – was not given advice on the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) when he was discharged and at home the next day began to suffer pain in his right leg.

Some two weeks later, on April 7, 2016, he felt well enough to leave his house, but as soon as he did so he complained of pain in his chest and feeling sick.

He fell and was helped back inside, but turned purple and was unable to speak. Paramedics gave him oxygen but he became unresponsive and died shortly after arrival at the Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

A post mortem revealed death was due to pulmonary embolism secondary to deep vein thrombosis.

Bakkavor Foods admitted contravening the Health and Safety At Work Act by failing to provide a safe system of work for porters working in the tray storage area – something they have since taken action on.

Sheriff Craig Caldwell, in deciding to fine Bakkavor £176,000, said he took into account the “apparent failures of the medical staff” who had treated Mr McLean.

He said: “It appears there was a lack of proper care on the part of the medical staff, but for which Mr McLean would not have died. However, the company has accepted that it was its failures which were the cause of the injury which resulted in his death.”