Forklift accident at work results in fatality

A firm has been prosecuted after a work accident in which one of its workers died. The accident happened in January 2005 when a 60-year-old employee was crushed.

A forklift truck had been going round a corner when its driver performed an emergency stop in order to avoid hitting a staff member. Due to the sudden braking, a steel coil situated on the forks became dislodged and fell on top of the man, pinning him to the ground. He later died from his injuries.

As a result of this accident at work IP, a firm located in Uxbridge, was given a fine of £50,000 and ordered to pay £6,000 in costs at a hearing at Leeds Crown Court on 30 May, after pleading guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

No risk assessments had been carried out and there was no system to safely separate pedestrians and vehicles on the site. Introducing these standard safety management procedures could have saved the workers life. As a result of the death it is likely that there was a claim for personal injury compensation on behalf of the deceased’s estate and his family.

Employers have a duty to ensure traffic routes for pedestrians and vehicles are clearly marked and that staff are trained in their use. As this accident shows, a momentary lapse can lead to disastrous consequence.

HSE Inspector Geoff Fletcher said: “This was a tragic and entirely avoidable incident, and a worker paid for that with his life. IP (Pontefract) failed to ensure that proper measures were taken to protect the worker and the consequences of that will affect his family forever. There should have been a system of work in place that adequately controlled the risks arising from vehicles moving around the site. Risk assessments had not been carried out and there was no system to adequately separate pedestrians and vehicles on the site. Training was inadequate and no refresher courses had been provided.”

The Health and Safety Executive is warning employers to ensure they provide an adequate system of work to control risks arising from the movement of vehicles in the workplace.

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