Recent prosecutions demonstrate that workplace transport accidents where forklift truck use is involved are still occurring too often with injuries suffered being life changing if not fatal. The following two examples have a number of similarities, not least the penalty imposed by the courts.
Recycling firm fined following death of forklift driver
A paper recycling company has been sentenced following the death of an agency worker who suffered fatal crush injuries. The 20-year-old was driving a forklift truck (FLT) when it overturned. He was not wearing a seat belt and became trapped between the FLT’s rollover protection and the floor and was subsequently crushed.
During the HSE’s investigation it was determined that there were significant failings in the management of workplace transport risks, including FLT operator competence, supervision and monitoring.
The Company pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act Section 3 (1) which states that “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.” The company was fined £600,000 and ordered to pay the costs of £22,860.
HSE stated that whilst tragic, the accident was completely preventable. Equipment such as FLT’s should be operated by competent and trained people. Employers must remember that they have the same responsibility to check the qualifications and competence, as well as to supervise and manage temporary workers, as well as direct full-time employees.
Company fined after worker suffered life changing injuries in transport incident
A meat producing company had an incident within its warehousing operations where a worker suffered life changing injuries and has been found guilty of health and safety breaches. The worker was an employee of a contractor who kept a permanent presence on the site.
The investigation determined that the worker was walking on an internal walkway when he was hit by the forklift from behind, trapped beneath the metal container it was carrying and then dragged along the ground, receiving multiple serious and life changing injuries, including the loss of a leg. The workplace transport risk assessment did not ensure that suitable and sufficient traffic management arrangements, including the segregation of vehicle and pedestrians, were in place.
The Company pleaded guilty to breaching the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations, and was fined £600,000 and ordered to pay £38,183 costs.
HSE commented how the failure of a “host” company to undertake and then implement an adequate risk assessment and ensure a safe system of work was in place was both tragic but completely avoidable. The risk was amplified by a failure to use the ample amount of advice and guidance available to employers / dutyholders and segregate the people from vehicles.
Our advice to employers who have moving vehicles within their workplace and especially where FLT are involved is to conduct a comprehensive Workplace Transport risk assessment and where the hazard of people and vehicles coming into contact with each other exists, manage the concern and where possible eliminate the risk, by segregation of the people from the equipment.
If this alert has raised questions or you need to discuss any other health & safety related issue do not hesitate to contact your health & safety consultant or the main office for advice / assistance.