Forklift accidents

Food distributor fined £175,000 after worker's death

A company has been fined £175,000 after a female employee aged 49 was crushed to death by a fork lift truck at its Avonmouth warehouse.

The company admitted a breach of Health and Safety regulations and was ordered to pay £18,455 court costs, making a total fine of £193,455.

In a prosecution brought by Bristol City Council, Bristol Crown Court heard that the deceased walked through the goods-in area to dispose of a leaking bottle in the yard while a fork lift truck driver was loading a lorry. The driver did not see her and reversed over her as she walked behind the forklift.

An investigation found that the company did not have precautions in place to protect pedestrians from moving vehicles such as separate pedestrian routes or any restriction on pedestrians walking through the goods-in area while fork lift trucks were working. Staff were not required to wear high visibility clothing and CCTV showed frequent instances of fork lifts working close to pedestrians in this area over the month before the accident.

Interviews with staff found they had not been given training or instructions on pedestrian safety.

Company risk assessments were inadequate and had not been put into practice and annual audits failed to identify the lack of effective pedestrian safety measures.

After the case, city council senior environmental health officer Heather Clarke said: “The tragic death has deprived her family of a loved and supportive member and was completely avoidable. It shows the need for companies to ensure that pedestrians are kept separate from moving vehicles, to train staff properly and to carry out adequate risk assessments.”