A 'well-respected' dad was killed when the forklift truck he was driving toppled over at a waste management firm in Cadishead. Ron Lowe was just 61 when the vehicle overturned and crushed him at Lanstar Ltd in Cadishead on April 3, 2017.
Manchester Magistrates Court heard how he died after the hazardous waste company failed to ensure trucks were being operated safely. Lanstar has now been fined more than £125,000 for the health and safety breach.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found the company had not adequately considered the risks of forklift trucks overturning at its Cadishead site. It also found the firm had not ensured seatbelts were being worn by drivers – despite it being company policy to do so.
The potential for forklift trucks to overturn is well known within the industry, as is the use of seatbelts to reduce the chance of injury in the event of an overturn, the court was told. Lanstar, of Liverpool Road, Cadishead, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was fined £126,000 and ordered to pay costs of £17,664.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE principal inspector Ian Copland said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided if the driver had been wearing a seatbelt as per company policy. "However, because the company did not fully appreciate the risk of an overturn, management failed to instruct and supervise their drivers properly. This resulted in seatbelts not routinely being worn by forklift truck drivers on-site.
“HSE hopes that this case helps to communicate important messages for employers to properly assess risks and put in place appropriate controls.”
Family members in Partington, Trafford, told the MEN Ron's wife, Elizabeth, died from cancer three years after his death. The couple have a daughter, Natalie, 28, who they described as 'extremely vulnerable'. She is being cared for by Elizabeth's sister, Michelle Lee, and close family friend Chris Whitehead, who both live close by.
They are hoping the court case could open the door to a claim for compensation. Chris said: "What happened to Ron, left Elizabeth heartbroken and probably triggered her cancer, which was Hodgkin's Lymphoma. "Natalie is an extremely vulnerable adult and will need care as she grows older. Within the space of three years she's lost both parents and at least one of those deaths was avoidable.
"Under the circumstances, we think there should be a strong legal case. If anything happened to me or Michelle, there would be no-one to look after her. We promised Elizabeth before she died, Natalie would be taken care of and that's what we are doing."
Michelle added: "Ron's death hit us very hard, and what happened to Elizabeth after was awful. There's no doubt in my mind that Ron's death triggered her illness."
Ron was a popular figure at both Belle Vue Aces where he was a volunteer 'pusher' [for speedway motorbikes starting off] and a steward at Manchester City. Neil Richards, managing director for CSG, of which Lanstar Ltd is a subsidiary company, said: “Ron Lowe was a highly respected, valued and popular colleague who is fondly remembered and deeply missed by all who worked with him at Lanstar. “Our thoughts remain with Ron’s daughter, Natalie, his wider family and many friends.