A manufacturing company has been fined £30,000 after a Counterbalance (Forklift) operator was restacking completed stillages, that then became unbalanced, and fell onto a worker who was in the yard looking for materials.
Back in July 2017, the Counterbalance operator was being assisted by another worker, helping to sort materials that were stored on stillages, which in turn were stacked on top of one another on top of a wheeled dolly. The Counterbalance (Forklift) truck was being used to pull out the dollies and stacks and lift each individual stillage down so the contents could be inspected and tidied at the manufacturers yard.
The worker sustained multiple injuries and was kept in an induced coma for three weeks following the incident.
The company was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,346 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
During the HSE (Health and Safety Investigation) investigation, they found that the company had failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, which identified the risk of lifting equipment making contact with other items located nearby. The Counterbalance truck in use was too large for the planned activity and the height of the stillages was too great, which presented a danger of them becoming unbalanced. Measures should also have been taken to segregate pedestrians from moving vehicles at the site.
HSE Inspector Jane Fox, said: “The worker’s injuries were life changing and he could have easily been killed. This serious incident could so easily have been avoided if basic safeguards had been put in place. Assessing the risks involved in work activities allows businesses to foresee what might occur. It is then straightforward to implement simple control measures and safe working practices.”