Blackpool Firm Fined Over Forklift Accident

Sweet Producer Fined £120,000 After Workplace Accident Left Staff Member Unable To Walk Unaided

29.04.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

A sweet manufacturer has been fined following an incident at a factory in Blackpool that saw a worker break numerous bones in his foot.

Tangerine Confectionery was fined £120,000 at Preston Crown Court and criticised for the health and safety failings that led to 48-year-old Kevin Lowe suffering life-changing injuries.

Mr Lowe was riding on a forklift truck when it collided with another vehicle at the site on Vicarage Lane, resulting in a fork piercing his foot at the instep.

The fork went all the way through his foot, exiting at the bridge, resulting in injuries so severe that Mr Lowe now has to use a walking stick and is only able to travel short distances on foot.

Surgeons at Blackpool Victoria Hospital initially feared they would have to amputate the foot, but were able to save it by using large screws. However, Mr Lowe has been unable to return to work or drive since the incident in September 2012.

Tangerine Confectionery was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive and inspector at the firm Michael Mullen said it had "failed to implement effective traffic management at its Vicarage Lane warehouse".

The two vehicles collided as a result of plastic curtains hung over the entrance to the site - designed to keep insects out - impeding the drivers' visibility. Mr Mullen said the firm "introduced physical hazards onto route ways without assessing their effects, and the result can best be described as chaotic".

It was one of three similar incidents that took place at the factory over a three-month period and Mr Mullen described it as "something that was almost inevitable".

Tangerine Confectionery pleaded guilty to a breach of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and had to pay £9,538 in prosecution costs in addition to the £120,000 fine.

Since the incident it has worked to improve safety at the site by removing the plastic curtains, fitting proximity alarms and clearly marking traffic routes.

Expert Opinion
Incidents involving forklift trucks in the workplace are all too common and there are strict guidelines for their use to try to keep workers safe.

“In this case the business, before the incident, had not taken into account the likelihood of a collision and did not have appropriate routes for their forklift trucks to travel.

“The victim has been left with serious injuries which will probably affect him for the rest of his life. All businesses need to take note of this case and ensure that they are adhering to the appropriate safety guidelines to help keep their workers safe.”
Stephen Nye, Partner