HSE warns against horseplay on forklift trucks
The HSE has warned that it will take action against workers whose 'horseplay' leads to an accident. The comment comes after an employee's act of stupidity left two teenage brothers with serious injuries.
Prosecuting, James Ageros told Croydon Crown Court that the incident happened at Premier Storage's warehouse in Southwark, south London in February 2003.
The court heard that two employees of a neighbouring firm - a 19 year old and his 18-year-old brother - were inspecting a fork-lift truck with a man-riding cage that was parked on the forecourt of the premises.
The pair climbed into the cage to have a closer look at it, and the warehouse manager raised them up until they were 20 feet above the ground. At this point, a worker from a nearby company climbed into the lift truck, reversed it down the sloping forecourt and made a sharp turn. Unbalanced, the vehicle rolled over, bringing the cage and its occupants crashing down.
One brother suffered a broken back, a broken right femur and dislocations to several of his toes - three of which later had to be amputated. The other brother meanwhile, suffered a broken neck and smashed vertebrae. Despite making a good recovery, the brothers continue to suffer from their injuries. The HSE said that when Smith was asked what had happened, he admitted: "It was all my fault , I was mucking around."
The worker who was driving the truck, who pleaded guilty, also acknowledged in court that he had acted very stupidly and said that he deeply regretted the incident. He added that he did not have the means to pay a large fine. He was fined £1,000 under Section 7(a) of the HSWA for failing to take reasonable care of himself and others. No costs were awarded. "This case is a stark reminder to all that fork-lift trucks are not toys to be played with," investigating HSE inspector Emma Stiles said after the case. "We will take action against employees who decide to undertake such an act of horseplay.