Unsafe loading procedure a commonplace event at factory…
CCTV footage captured footage of a warehouse worker standing on the forks of a forklift truck as he was lifted along with a pallet across the warehouse floor until he lost balance and was injured in the fall.
The 39-year-old accident victim was in the process of packing some energy drinks for export at a factory in Chorley, Lancashire when the incident occurred don 31 May 2011.
The bottles were places in the pallets which were then loaded onto an electric pallet truck which was necessary to move the pallets as they weighed up to 1.25 tonnes. The electric pallet truck was then moved into position onto the forklift truck with the employee standing in position on the arms of the truck in an effort to stabilise the load. This highly dangerous procedure was repeated on multiple occasions at the factory eventually leading to the accident.
The accident occurred when the electric pallet was being moved onto the forklift truck as the accident victim stood on the forks helping to move the electric pallet vehicle into place. As the forklift truck was about to depart the loading bay the electric pallet vehicle suddenly overbalanced and fell off the forklift truck. The employee also fell and became trapped by the fork arms of the pallet truck.
The incident could have had devastating consequences as battery acid leaked from the electric pallet truck but it narrowly avoided contact with the accident victim who was lucky to escape with severe bruising on his right hip and thigh.
The HSE decided to prosecute the company after reviewing the CCV footage which provided hard evidence that extremely unsafe working practices were taking place at the factory. The dangerous loading procedures had been happening at the factory for some time yet management had failed to put a stop to it, nor had they carried out any kind of risk assessment or implemented safe working procedures for users of the vehicles.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974 for failing to ensure its employees’ safety and reg.3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 for failing to make an adequate risk assessment and was fined a total of £14,000 in addition to full prosecution costs of £6657. Management has since introduced a forklift truck-mounted working platform to safeguard the transfer of equipment into the containers and has also made a commitment to providing training for users of the pallet trucks.
Author: Julian Roberts
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