Company Hit With Huge Fine Over Worker Death

Animal Feed Maker Prosecuted Over Fatality

19.08.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397
A firm that makes animal feed has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over the death of a man who was crushed in an accident with a forklift truck.

Stonehaven-based East Coast Viners Grain was investigated by the HSE over the incident in March 2013, when 49-year-old David Leslie was picking up a load from the site.

He was standing by a grain elevator, which picks up grain and drops it into a bulk transporter, when the driver of the forklift truck that held the 600 kg grain bin and its 1.5 tonne cargo raised the forks to get a better view of where he was putting the container.

The bin slipped loose of the forks and although the driver shouted a warning, it was too late for Mr Leslie to get out of the way and the bin fell on him. Mr Leslie was killed by crush injuries to his head, neck and chest.

The HSE investigation found East Coast Viners Grain did not have a safe loading system in place and had also assumed the training given to the forklift truck driver by an external company would be sufficient for him to operate the vehicle safely.

Among its findings were that while rules were in place requiring drivers to be kept away from trucks while loading took place, neither they or site staff were told of this. This meant drivers helped with the loading process in breach of this rule.

In addition, the company had done nothing to secure bins when they were lifted on forks, despite other recorded incidences of them slipping. The company had also been prosecuted in 2011 after a staff member suffered severe injuries when he fell from an excavator bucket.

East Coast Viners Grain pleaded guilty during the hearing at Aberdeen Sheriff Court to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was fined £240,000.

HSE principal inspector Niall Miller said the accident could have been "easily prevented".

He added: "Around a quarter of all workplace transport incidents involve forklift trucks, with 50 per cent of these happening because someone is hit either by the vehicle or a falling load."

Expert Opinion
This is yet another example of a tragic accident at work involving a forklift truck. In recent weeks we have seen a number of incidents where staff have been seriously injured in incidents involving forklift trucks, but on this occasion Mr Leslie tragically lost his life. This shocking event and subsequent HSE prosecution highlights the important duty employers have when it comes to the health and safety of their employees.

"It is vital all workers are provided with the correct training and equipment to carry out their roles and that stringent risk assessments are carried out before tasks, with the potential problems highlighted by these dealt with and the appropriate measures implemented to prevent these risks from posing a danger to workers. The HSE said this tragic accident was ‘easily preventable’ and nothing had been done to resolve issues highlighted with this procedure in the past. It is crucial employers take these reports seriously and act quickly to prevent accidents at work occurring and causing employees serious injuries, or death, as a result of safety failings."
Jonathan Peacock, Partner