A Rossendale company, which makes carpet underlay out of waste from car seats and furniture manufacturers, has been fined after a worker was struck by a 300kg bale of foam and broke his leg.
The worker, from Todmorden, also suffered knee damage as a result of the incident on 4 December 2013.
Interfloor, based in Broadway, Haslingden, was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £7,200 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to safety failings on 4 February 2015.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the company after an investigation found it had become standard practice for heavy bales to be stacked up to four levels high, with no measures in place to prevent them falling and injuring workers below.
Preston Crown Court heard that large bales of foam were stacked in a storage area, where an employee was labelling each bale so that a consistent mix could be used in the production process.
As he was doing this, a bale from the third level up fell and hit him on his back, knocking him face-first on to the concrete floor. He was in hospital for a week and off work for several months as a result of his injuries.
The court heard that bales had fallen from stacks on several occasions before, but the company had taken no action.
Interfloor has now changed its procedures so that workers are no longer required to label bales in the storage area. Instead their locations are simply marked on a whiteboard on the factory wall.
HSE inspector Stuart Kitchingman said: “The impact of being struck by a 300kg bale could easily have been fatal.
“The company knew there was a risk of workers being injured by falling bales but it did nothing to stop this from happening. It was only after the incident that it put in place simple measures to prevent access to the storage area.
“It’s vital that manufacturers act to tackle dangers rather than waiting for an employee to be injured before doing anything practical.”