Overturned Forklift Crushes Agency Worker

Company Fined £17,000 For Safety Failings Following Accident


A Suffolk business has been fined £17,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,985 after admitting to safety failings that resulted in an agency worker being crushed by a forklift truck.

Murfitts Industries of Lakenheath pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 9(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 during a hearing at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates' Court.

A 27-year-old man - who wishes to remain anonymous - had to have his spleen removed after he was tipped out of the lifting truck he was driving in September 2012. He still suffers pain and must take antibiotics on a permanent basis.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has conducted an investigation into the incident and deemed that Murfitts Industries could have done more to prevent it.

It emerged that the firm had been the subject of HSE enforcement action regarding the use of transport on its premises in the past and the company introduced new training schemes to ensure staff knew how to drive forklift trucks.

However, these programmes did not stretch to agency workers and the injured man was not qualified to use this type of machinery. He was moving the vehicle with a clamp attachment in a raised position and was not wearing a seatbelt, putting him in grave danger as the truck overturned.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Steven Gill said this accident could have easily been prevented if adequate training and supervision had been offered to all employees.

"Forklift trucks can overturn if manoeuvres are not carried out correctly and such risks are well known in the industry," he commented.

"That is why any driver using these vehicles must be provided with appropriate training. Murfitts knew the standard for training because they had provided it for their own staff, but failed to ensure that their agency workers were similarly trained when using the same equipment."

According to HSE statistics, forklift trucks are involved in around one-quarter of reported vehicle-related workplace accidents in the UK.

Expert Opinion
This was an avoidable accident where a worker has suffered serious injury after being hit by a forklift truck. It is very worrying that the subsequent investigation by the HSE revealed that the company admitted that the safety guidelines were not followed.

“Sadly, we see numerous cases like this in which people have suffered serious injuries, some of which they sadly never fully recover from, as a result of accidents in the workplace, with the same problems being identified in accidents time and time again.

“It is vital that other companies take notice of cases like this which are highlighted by the HSE, with the ultimate aim of ensuring that the same mistakes are not made again in the future.”
Stephen Nye, Partner