Forklift accidents, prosecutions and fines

Life threatening injuries due to falling load

danger forklits signA logistics company has been fined for safety failings after a driver was injured when he was hit by a pallet that fell from a fork lift truck.

Basildon Crown Court heard how on 19 December 2014, Darren Andrews, a 49-year-old employee of a transport services firm was making a delivery to CWT Commodities (UK) Limited in a lorry. The delivery consisted of a shrink-wrapped pallet of a number of boxes containing castor wheels sitting on top of a wooden case.

A forklift driver employed by CWT Commodities (UK) Limited was offloading the delivery from the lorry’s trailer. Having reversed clear of the trailer, the pallet fell to the side of the forklift truck, striking the Mr Andrews as he was standing to the side of the cab watching the operation.

Mr Andrews suffered significant, life threatening injuries as a result of the impact and was airlifted to Royal London Hospital where he stayed for three weeks. He was transferred again to a Bristol hospital for a further week. The incident has had profound and long-term effects on him and he will be unable to return to work as a HGV driver.

Although a risk assessment for the activity had been undertaken, it did not specifically detail a risk to visiting drivers, although it did indicate that the driver should return to his cab, or to stand a ‘safe distance’ away from the operation.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation revealed it was common for visiting drivers to stand next to their cabs or in the vicinity of the forklift truck. The risk assessment identified the risk, but it was not being robustly or consistently implemented.

CWT Commodities (UK) Limited, of Tilbury Docks, Tilbury, Essex was fined a total of £22,000 and ordered to pay £4,639 in costs after pleading guilty to an offence under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.