Forklift accidents

Teenage workers seriously injured falling from height

June 15th 2012. A Derbyshire manufacturing firm and its director have been fined after two teenage agency workers fell from a lifting platform.

The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted the company and one of its directors after one of the men, 18, from Sutton in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, broke his back in the incident on 6 April 2009 at the firm's depot on Sawpit Lane Industrial Estate in Tibshelf. His colleague also 18, broke both of his heels and needed pins and a metal plate put in to his feet.

Derby Crown Court heard that the teenagers were helping to put scrapped trolleys into a skip using a makeshift lifting platform designed by a director of the company to fit a fork lift truck. As the platform was bringing the two workers back down to the ground, it was caught and dragged off the truck's forks. The workers and platform fell four and a half metres to the ground.

HSE's investigation found that the company had failed to ensure the health and safety of its employees, and that company director had not followed guidelines and standards in the design of the platform, as the fork extensions did not fit properly into the platform. Also the plate did not have any chains or any other means to secure it to the fork lift truck and it had an open edge.

After the hearing HSE inspector Fiona Coffey said:

"These two teenagers, who were just embarking on their working lives, narrowly escaped death and have now been left with life-changing physical and psychological injuries. One has even had to abandon his plans to join his father in the asphalt industry as it is too physically demanding.

The company should have considered if it was necessary to use a platform like this in the first place, and if it was, used something that was legal and safe - this arrangement clearly was not".

The company pleaded guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Derby Crown Court fined the firm £22,000 and ordered it to pay costs of £12,134 and a £15 victim surcharge.

The director also pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, and was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay costs of £7,866 and a £15 victim surcharge.

Last year more than 6,300 employees suffered major injuries after falling from height at work. Download the HSE guidance note on the safe use of lifting platforms here.