A microbrewery has been fined £6,000 for health and safety failings.

Oxfordshire Ales Limited, based in Marsh Gibbon, near Bicester, was warned in May 2010 that it needed to take action after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) served an improvement notice requiring action to protect workers transferring materials from racking to processing machinery.

A visiting HSE inspector raised concerns about the manual handling operations, which included filling hoppers with malt and barley with employees lifting heavy sacks weighing up to 25kg in awkward circumstances.

The notice required the company to carry out a thorough assessment of the handling risks and to take appropriate action.

Aylesbury Magistrates’ Court heard on Monday that little had changed when HSE revisited the brewery on November 8, 2010, and again on February 3, 2011.

Concerns were also raised about a mezzanine floor which was accessible via inadequate steps.

A second improvement notice was served in March 2011 to trigger action on this failing before improvements were made.

Oxfordshire Ales Limited, of Pear Tree Industrial Units, Bicester Road, Marsh Gibbon, has been fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £8,623 in costs for breaching Section 21 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The company pleaded guilty to the offences at an earlier hearing.

HSE Inspector Stephen Manley said: “The response to the original improvement notice was disappointing to say the least.

“The improvements were necessary in order to protect workers from injury and prevent falls, yet the company took far too long to take appropriate action. Thankfully no employees were hurt, but there were clear risks that could easily have been remedied a lot sooner.”