Forklift accident

Overturning truck injures untrained operator

The employer of an untrained man who injured himself when his telehandler overturned has been fined nearly £7,000 for its part in the accident. The employer, based in Gateshead, appeared at Tynedale Magistrates' Court to plead guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the HSWA 1974, and was fined £4,500, with costs of £2,357.20

The court heard how the injured party, a 39 year old ground worker, was using the telehandler to lift roof trusses onto the roof of a development in Sandhoe in Northumberland. He was not trained or qualified to use the machinery, and had managed to position the machine across a slope. On one of the lifts he extended the boom too far, causing the machine to overbalance and fall onto its side. He was not wearing a seatbelt, and was therefore thrown against the window and the control levers.  He was hospitalised and off work for a long time.

Had he been trained, he would have known how to deploy the vehicle properly, and would have been wearing his seatbelt. The company did have a risk assessment for the operation, but it did not cover the risks of unauthorised workers operating the telehandler. Furthermore, it did not prevent untrained workers from having access to the vehicle's keys.

After the case, HSE construction inspector John McGill, said: "The driver has suffered long-term injuries as a result of this serious incident. The company failed to ensure that he had the necessary training to use the machine and had not reviewed its processes to ensure that unauthorised personnel did not have access to specialist machinery on site.

"While the company had produced a risk assessment and a system of work for lifting the roof trusses, neither were sufficient, and had failed to identify the dangers that workers would face."

In mitigation, the firm said it now had a robust system in place to make sure only authorised members of staff could operate the telehandler.