Firm fined £120,000 after forklift spears worker’s foot
May 6th 2014. A national sweet manufacturer has appeared in court after the fork on a forklift truck pierced a worker’s foot, entering the instep and exiting the bridge, breaking every bone in its path.
The worker, aged 48, suffered life-changing injuries in the incident at the company in Blackpool on 19 September 2012, and is now only able to walk short distances with the use of a stick.
The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after an investigation found the incident was one of three collisions in the same location at the factory within a three month period.
Preston Crown Court was told the injured man, from Blackpool, had been driving a ride on pallet truck in a warehouse at the company’s Vicarage Lane plant, and was manoeuvring the vehicle very close to the entrance because of a lack of space inside.
He was injured when another worker drove through the plastic strip curtains that hung down over the entrance, and the two vehicles collided.
He was rushed to Blackpool Victoria Hospital where surgeons initially thought they would have to amputate his foot. He spent nine days in hospital and his foot was eventually saved using large screws. His injury will affect him for the rest of his life and he is unable to return to work or to drive.
The court was told the plastic curtains over the entrance were designed to keep out insects and birds, but they obscured the view of workers going into the warehouse.
The area had also been overcrowded with pallets from two other warehouses while maintenance work was being carried out, which restricted the space drivers had to operate vehicles and increased the flow of traffic.
The HSE investigation heard that the same worker had also been involved in a collision at the same entrance a few weeks earlier, suffering minor bruising, and there was another collision a couple of days after the September incident. On all of these occasions, restricted vision through the curtains was given as a cause by the drivers involved.
The company has since removed the plastic curtains and changed its systems so vehicles and pedestrians can move safely around the site.
The company was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £9,538 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Michael Mullen said:
“Mr Lowe has suffered a horrific injury that will affect him for life because Tangerine Confectionery failed to implement effective traffic management at its Vicarage Lane warehouse