Forklift accidents

Manufacturer fined after worker is impaled and killed

5th Dec. 2013. One of the world’s largest producers of adhesives for the construction industry has been fined after a worker died when he was pinned against a forklift truck by a reversing lorry in Halesowen.

The man died following the incident in the transport yard of the company on 1 July, 2010. He had been asked to empty a machine using a forklift truck to move a skip and then empty the contents of the skip into a bag that was held within a cage.

Wolverhampton Crown Court today heard that a lorry driver was asked to move his vehicle by another driver so they could access the loading area. Around the same time, the worker had left the cab of his forklift truck and moved to the front of the forklift truck.

The lorry driver reversed the 18 tonne rigid back truck unknowingly pinning Mr Davies between the back of the lorry and the cage which was resting on the forks. His head was impaled against the forks, killing him instantly.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation revealed significant safety failings. HSE found they had failed to segregate pedestrians and vehicles adequately in order to organise, supervise, manage and run their transport yard. The yard did not have defined traffic routes or walkways, there were no ground markings and the yard was open with no physical restrictions on movement.

A system was in place to restrict vehicle movement whereby all drivers handed in their vehicle keys on arrival but this didn't’t apply to all vehicles. In this case, the lorry driver had not handed his keys in, meaning he did not have to seek the company's authority or assistance when moving his vehicle.

HSE found that the company considered the transport area a low priority in terms of risk despite previous independent safety reports telling them the opposite.

The company of Steel Park Road, Halesowen, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act and was fined a total of £173,332. The amount of costs to be paid will be agreed at a later date.   Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Mahesh Mahey said:

“Numerous health and safety failings by xxxxxxx led to this tragic incident in which Mr xxxxxx needlessly lost his life. The dangers associated with vehicle movements are obvious and have been highlighted by HSE for many years. There were long-term, systematic failings by the company to adequately assess the risks and take sufficient control measures to ensure the transport yard was operated without posing a risk to the safety of those working there. Since the death the company has implemented more effective controls of vehicle movements, limiting movements to one vehicle at a time and installing a traffic marshal to supervise vehicle manoeuvres.