Cleaner suffers broken legs in accident at work

A lighting company has been fined £35,000 and forced to pay £15,750 in costs for failing to manage site traffic, after one of their employees was struck by a forklift truck.

Michael O’Connor was working as a full-time cleaner for Aurora Ltd when the accident took place at the company’s warehouse in St Albans, on 18 February 2008. Mr O’Connor had been walking across the premises to collect fresh supplies from his storage cupboard when he was hit by a forklift truck, knocking him to the floor. Mr O’Connor broke both his legs and had extensive tissue injuries which needed months of painful skin graft treatment. He has since been unable to work and is still left suffering from considerable pain.

An investigation led by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council established that the company had inadequate risk control measures in place and had there been this accident would have been prevented. The council’s Environmental Health team also discovered that the company tolerated the truck being driven with a load that obscured the drivers view. Other health and safety offences committed by the company were a lack of risk assessment, failure to separate moving vehicles from pedestrians and not providing a safe system of working for employees.

Appearing at St Albans Magistrate Court, Aurora Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of s2(1) of the Health and Safety Act 1974 and was fined.

Head of environmental health at the council Nick Long said: “Management of workplace transport risks is a priority topic and had even an elementary risk assessment been carried out it would have highlighted the control measures that could have prevented this kind of accident from happening.”

A spokesman for Welwyn Hatfield Council said: “The dangers of forklift trucks are well known and employers have a legal duty to ensure all their staff work in safety. All employees have a legal duty to ensure their staff work in a safe environment. In taking this case to court, the council has shown that it will take firm action with any employer that deliberately puts its employees at risk.”

Mr O’Connor is also seeking work injury compensation from his former employers.

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