Forklift accidents

Worker's legs crushed by pack of sheet steel

29th Oct. 2013 A Croydon company that builds truck bodies has been prosecuted after a worker’s leg was crushed by a pack of six-metre steel sheets weighing almost 4 tonnes when it slid and fell during unloading.

The self-employed lorry driver, 52, from Stoke on Trent, was working alongside employees of the company at their site in New Addingham on 5 January 2012 when he was injured.

He had delivered the sheet metal packs in his flatbed lorry and workers were unloading them using a tandem lift by two counterbalanced forklift trucks. The packs were being re-loaded onto a separate lorry before being taken to the firm’s factory.

However, the re-loading was unbalanced and as a second pack was being placed on the first, a loose wooden baton became dislodged and the whole sheet steel pack started to slide. The injured man, who was picking up straps between the two lorries, was struck by the corner of the pack before it hit the concrete floor.

He suffered a fractured leg and muscle damage and has limited knee and ankle movement. He has had to return for hospital treatment when swelling of his leg has caused skin splitting and infection.

The Health and Safety Executive investigated and prosecuted The company at Westminster Magistrates’ Court for two breaches of health and safety legislation.

The court heard that HSE found a lack of planning led to the injured man being able to work in close proximity to the chassis lorry as the hazardous re-loading was taking place. The tandem lift was a complicated procedure that had been neither properly planned nor supervised. Had it been controlled and directed competently, the risk of any incident would have been significantly reduced.

The company of Vulcan Way, New Addington, Croydon, was fined a total £14,000 and ordered to pay £11,284 in costs after admitting a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations and a separate breach of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations.

After the court case, HSE Inspector Matt Raine said:

"This incident could easily have resulted in death and was completely preventable. The injuries sustained have been painful and life-changing and, although he can drive his lorry, it is not certain how long he will be able to do so.

The company failed to make sure that the lifting operation of the sheet metal was properly planned and supervised and then, of course, carried out safely. In addition they had not provided adequate training in the use of the forklift trucks to one of their employees involved in the lifting operation.

"Employers must ensure that work equipment is used in the correct way and that only trained people are allowed to operate such equipment.