Forklift accidents

Employer sentenced after worker crushed to death

A North Lanarkshire employer has been fined for safety failings which led to a worker being killed after he was thrown from a forklift truck and crushed.

The deceased, 22, of Denny, had only been working for the small scaffold refurbishment business in Coatbridge, for two weeks before the incident happened on 28 August 2012.

Airdrie Sheriff Court heard that the dead man was driving an unladen forklift truck down a sloping access way to the front gate to see his girlfriend when she arrived to pick him up at the end of his shift.

He made a sharp left hand turn, causing the vehicle to tip over. The operator, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown to the ground and the vehicle’s protective cage fell onto his head trapping him beneath it.

Alerted by the screams of his girlfriend, a colleague rushed to use another forklift truck to raise the vehicle to free him. He had suffered multiple head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive revealed the company owner had failed to provide a safe system of work at the site, in that he failed to have in place a system to ensure that only suitably trained employees drove forklift trucks.

The dead operator had not received any formal training on driving forklift trucks. He had been given about 20 minutes’ in-house training but this fell far short of the standard required by HSE. He had not been given adequate training in relation to the requirement to wear a seatbelt or in relation to the hazards involved in carrying out sharp turning manoeuvres.

The court was told that during a site visit several years earlier, a HSE inspector had seen a forklift truck driven by a non-qualified driver and by the company owner. He  was told to ensure that only those properly trained to drive the vehicle should use it. Despite this, at the time of the incident some employees who were required to drive the forklift trucks, had not undergone any external training.

The owner, of Northburn Road, Coatbridge, was fined £24,500 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.