Fork lift driver fined £2500 following fatality
A fork-lift driver whose reckless actions led to the death of a colleague and friend has been fined a total of £2,500. Skipton Magistrates' Court heard that the accident happened when the driver, of Sutton-in-Craven in North Yorkshire, let his colleague stand on the forks of his lift truck in order to reach pallets stacked on the second deck of a two-tier lorry.
Both men were trained, experienced lift truck operators employed by a haulage company and were taking part in a routine task of scanning barcodes on a series of pallets on a truck at a distribution hub in Crosshills in March 2006.
This operation was performed very frequently, and it was usually done by unloading the pallets, which would have been unloaded anyway, and scanning their barcodes on the ground. On the day of the accident, it seems that both men had decided, unbeknown to management, to go ahead with the dangerous practice of riding the forks. The deceased was 3m in the air when he lost his footing while stretching to scan a pallet on the end of the truck. He fell awkwardly and suffered multiple serious injuries, dying of complications in hospital two months later,
The men's employer was investigated, but HSE found no wrongdoing: there was no suggestion of time saving or management pressure on the men. The company was found to take safety extremely seriously, and had all the proper written procedures in place, doing its best to make sure they were followed. Its employees were trained and competent, and supervised as much as necessary. It also had a clear paper record of disciplinary action for ail previous health and safety failings by staff,
HSE inspector Paul Yeadon said that the operator should have known far better than trying such a lift. "Individuals have to take responsibility for their own actions, and can't just ignore the most basic tenets of fork lift use," he said.
In mitigation, the operator apologised, and said he did not know why they had gone ahead with the lift.
The deceased’s' widow said that she did not hold the operator solely responsible for her husband's death.