Forklift accidents

Large fine for heating firm after worker crushed to death

A Wednesbury based heating, ventilation and air conditioning manufacturer has been fined £150,000 after a worker was crushed to death while working in its warehouse.

The worker, 58, of Bilston, a production supervisor for the company, had been stacking three metre long metal tubes in the warehouse in Darlaston Road, Wednesbury, when the incident happened on 27 July 2011.

With the aid of a forklift truck, he had created several stacks but as he left his cab to set down timber pieces for the next bundle of tubes to rest on, one of the stacks, weighing a tonne, collapsed onto him. Paramedics were called but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Health and Safety Executive investigated and prosecuted his employers for safety failings at Wolverhampton Crown Court

The court heard another employee was unloading a container of the heater tubes, bound by bands into bundles of 19 and weighing around 200kg per bundle.

The deceased then used a forklift truck to move the bundles into stacks, five bundles high and with wooden separators, parallel to the internal wall of the goods in area. He needed to leave the cab of the forklift truck at each trip to set down timber for the next bundle to rest on.

The HSE investigation found that there were no restraints nor any racking to support the tube stacks and the timber used to separate them were not a standard size. The source of the timber used for the task was not controlled by the company.

The deceased who had been with the company for 34 years, was a trained forklift truck driver but neither he nor his colleagues had been given specific training or instruction on stacking the tube bundles. There was also no risk assessment in relation to the task.

The company were fined £150,000 and ordered to pay £33,000 costs, after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.