Forklift truck topples over after hitting pothole and seriously injures employee…
A freight company based in Suffolk has been prosecuted after an employee broke his back when a forklift truck toppled
over and dropped its load onto him.
The 56-year-old man worked for the company at one of its plants in Great Blakenham. He was waiting for his own trailer to be loaded on 9 January 2012 when a forklift truck ran into a pothole and fell over, causing its heavy load of pallets and boxes to fall onto the accident victim.
He sustained several fractures to the vetrebrae of both his upper and middle back and was not in a position to do any kind of physical work for many weeks. He is now able to carry out some less physically demanding work duties but still suffers from frequent pain and discomfort in his back.
The subsequent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) invetsigation into the incident discovered that the road surface at the premises was extremely hazardous for vehicles, as it was pitted with multiple potholes. It was also noted that traffic at the plant was not co-ordinated or managed to expected safety standards, and there was no segregation between pedestrians and vehicles in evidence at the site.
The HSE decided to impose two Improvement Notices on the company ordering them to improve the condition of the road surface and implement a safe system of work at the site, so that pedestrians and vehicles could be safely segregated. However a follow-up inspection in September 2012 revealed that the company had failed in their legal duty to comply with the Improvement Notices.
The company was fined a total of £50,000 and ordered to pay additional prosecution costs of £4,501.23 at Ipswich Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to breaches of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, Regulation 9(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, Regulation 17(1) of the Workplace Regulations 1992, and not taking the necessary remedial action outlined in the two Improvement Notices.
HSE Inspector Paul Grover spoke after the hearing had concluded:
“This was an entirely preventable injury caused by persistent disregard by the company of basic safety measures. The company allowed the yard’s surface to deteriorate so badly that forklift trucks were regularly destabilised when carrying loads.
“There was also no system to allow vehicles and pedestrians to move safely around each other and the forklift truck driver had not been given suitable training which resulted in him using unsafe work practices where the truck was driven with the forks and load lifted.
“The company’s subsequent repeated failure to meet the requirements of the two improvement notices demonstrated their complete disregard for their legal responsibility to keep their employees, and non-employees visiting the site, safe.
“The risks of serious injury and, all too frequently, death, resulting from the failure to control the safe movement of vehicles and pedestrians are widely recognised.
“Putting safe working practices in place is often simple and inexpensive and where this doesn’t happen the costs, both financial and personal, can be immense.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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