Man dies after fall from forklift truck
Two companies have been fined a total of £100,000 following the death of a maintenance worker who fell from the forks of a forklift truck at a Macclesfield factory. The deceased aged 60, was being lifted in a stillage not designed for carrying personnel on 10th June 2006 when it slipped off and he fell approximately four metres to the concrete floor below. The father-of-three from Rotherham died in hospital later that day from head injuries. Both companies were both prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at one company’s factory at Nab Works, Long Lane, Pott Shrigley.
Chester Crown Court was told that one company had been hired to repair an overhead crane at the factory but had allowed the deceased to be lifted in a container designed for materials rather than people. The HSE investigation found that it had been standard practice for the company to use containers and pallets on forklift trucks to lift workers, despite neither being designed, nor safe, for that purpose.
The dead man’s widow told the HSE: "The day my husband was killed was the worst day of our lives, sending shock through the family. After five years we still feel the hurt every day, and it doesn't get any easier. "He went to work that morning a fit and healthy, loving family man, and didn't come home to us. Life without him is very different and very difficult. Everyday life will never be the same. "His death has left a massive hole in not only my life, but that of his three grown-up children and eight grandchildren, and the rest of our family and friends. "We feel really let down by the employers he was working for. The accident should never have happened and we wouldn't want anyone else to go through what we are going through."
The main company, which produces rubber surfaces for running tracks and children's playgrounds, admitted two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by putting workers' safety at risk. It was fined £90,000 and ordered to pay £21,411 in prosecution costs in a sentencing hearing a Warrington Crown Court on 9th December 2011.
The deceased’s employers, of Claywheels Lane in Sheffield, also pleaded guilty to one breach of the same act for failing to ensure the safety of its employee. It was fined £10,000 with costs of £5,000.
HSE Principal Inspector Tanya Stewart added: "The man died because neither company followed basic health and safety procedures for working at height. He should never have been expected to stand in a metal stillage, balanced dangerously on the forks of a fork lift truck. The companies simply did not consider the risks he might face if he carried out the repair work to the overhead crane in this way. They should have made sure a safe system for the work was in place before allowing him to start. It's disgraceful that the practice of lifting workers on fork lift trucks had taken place on many other occasions. Sadly, it was therefore almost inevitable that someone would be seriously injured or killed."