Forklift accident

Harwich company fined after worker hit by forklift

31 March 2011. A food processing company has been prosecuted for safety failings after an employee broke his leg when he was struck by a forklift truck at a Harwich factory.

The company was fined £9,000 in relation to the incident at Harwich Industrial Estate, on Europa Way, on 14 July 2010.

Colchester Magistrates Court heard that the injured man, a packer and machine operator, was working in the rice packing area when he was struck from behind by a forklift truck carrying a full pallet of boxed rice flour.He suffered a fracture to his right leg and extensive and severe bruising to his left leg and knee.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the movement of flour on pallets in the packing area was inherently unsafe as it involved the unnecessary use of a fork lift truck in a heavily congested work area, which limited the driver's vision. The area did not have adequately segregated routes separating pedestrians and vehicles.

The company admitted breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for the safety failings. In addition to the £9,000 fine, the company was also ordered to pay £3,214 in costs.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Toni Drury said:

"This incident could and should have been prevented. Workplace transport is a priority area for health and safety and the danger to workers being hit by vehicles is obvious.

"Employers must ensure that the interaction between moving vehicles and pedestrians in the workplace is managed properly. If workplaces are correctly designed then the chances of someone being injured like this are greatly reduced.

"There is plenty of free advice and guidance available from HSE to help businesses comply with the law and keep people safe. HSE will not hesitate to take action against companies failing to comply with the law."