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Forklift accidents

Employee loses leg in forklift accident

April 9th 2013. A London-based chemicals company has been prosecuted after a worker was run over by a forklift truck and had to have part of his leg amputated.

The 59-year-old from Essex, who does not wish to be named, was hit as he carried out maintenance on a drain cover at the company in North Woolwich Road, Newham, on 3 August 2011.

The long-serving employee, who had worked for the company more than 40 years, suffered major crush injuries to his right leg and had to undergo an above-the-knee amputation in hospital. He also sustained ligament damage to his left leg, a dislocated left elbow and was in hospital for some four weeks. He has been unable to return to work since.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive which prosecuted his employer for serious safety failings.

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard that the forklift truck driver, who was carrying a one-tonne palletised load, was unable to see the injured worker, a laboratory technician, as he was sealing a drain cover on a roadway at the site. There were no barriers or tape indicating the area had to be avoided, although there were fixed signs in place banning pedestrians.

The truck hit him as it traveled on a main forklift route between the production and warehouse sites - a route that was used up to 100 times per day by each operative.

HSE found that the company had failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for carrying out maintenance activity in the road. They had further failed to put measures in place to adequately protect employees working in the road from the risk of being hit by forklift trucks.

The company was fined a total of £20,000 and ordered to pay £3,139 in costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Stephen Farthing said:

"The serious injuries the worker sustained could have been avoided. It would have been relatively easy for the company to close the road down for the 15 minute period that was needed to seal the drain cover.

The company needed only to follow readily available guidance and put adequate precautions in place to separate operational traffic from employees carrying out maintenance in the roadway.

Every year there are more than 60 deaths from work-related transport accidents and over 2,000 major injuries. Employers must ensure that they assess the movement of vehicles and where possible segregate pedestrians to eliminate the risk."

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