Forklift accidents

Female student killed as truck overturns

A farming company was fined £20,000 after a courtforklift overturn sideways heard how a Hungarian student was killed when the fork lift truck she was riding on overturned.

Prosecuting on behalf of the HSE, Robin Cooper told Stevenage Magistrates' Court that the 20-year-old was on a work placement at a farm in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, when the incident happened on 17th July 2002.

The court heard that on the day of the accident, the young woman was riding on a lift truck driven by a fellow student when it overturned. She was crushed beneath the vehicle, and died from her injuries.

Cooper told the court that the HSE's subsequent investigation into the accident revealed that the company failed to adequately control worker access to fork lift trucks on the farm.

In particular, the court was told that ignition keys were left in the cabs of fork lift trucks. This meant that unauthorised and untrained workers were able to operate the vehicles without the company's knowledge, including the student who was driving the lift truck at the time of the woman's death.

In mitigation, the farm, which pleaded guilty, said that it now ensures that keys are not left in fork lift trucks, with keys issued only to people authorised to drive the vehicles.

The company added that it also now provides site safety rules in Russian, the language of many workers employed at the farm.

They were fined £20,000 under Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for failing to ensure the health and safety of an employee. The firm was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £11,501

Speaking after the case, investigating HSE inspector David Head said: 'We know that fork lift trucks can be dangerous and we have recently seen several serious accidents involving them. It is very important that firms ensure that only trained and authorised staff are allowed to drive lift trucks. 'Failure to do so can have tragic consequences, as with this case where a young woman lost her life.'