Forklift Truck Injury Leads To Company Prosecution

Health And Safety Executive Prosecutes Lincolnshire Plant Over Avoidable Accident

03.06.2014

A Lincolnshire plastic recycling plant has been prosecuted and fined over an incident in which a worker suffered life-changing injuries as a result of a collision with a forklift truck.

The incident occurred at the ECO Plastics premises in Hemswell in March 2012, causing 63-year-old engineer Robin Eddom severe back and tissue injuries. This included two broken vertebrae and internal bleeding. He has been forced to take early retirement and will suffer discomfort from the injuries for the rest of his life.

He was hit by the reversing vehicle as he walked across the floor of the company's warehouse, at a time when the normal segregated safe walkway set up for those passing through on foot had been taped off while construction work took place.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had neglected to devise a safe alternative pedestrian route while the work was ongoing, meaning there was a serious risk of people on foot coming into contact with vehicles in the manner that caused Mr Eddom's injuries.

Acknowledging this failing, the company pleaded guilty at Lincoln Magistrates' Court to a breach of section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was fined £12,500 with costs of £5,261.

Commenting on the case, HSE inspector Karin Abbott remarked: "The incident was entirely preventable. Mr Eddom should have been able to use the designated walkway provided within the building, but this was not possible as this walkway was completely blocked by stored building materials and equipment.

"The dangers associated with vehicle movements around pedestrians are well-known in the industry."
According to HSE figures, almost a quarter of work-related deaths are caused by reversing vehicles.

Guidance issued by the body has said that wherever possible, this form of movement should be avoided. When it does take place, the use of bigger and more numerous mirrors may help, as could reversing alarms, CCTV and even radar in some circumstances.

Expert Opinion
This company’s failure to provide a safe pedestrian route for its workers had life-changing consequences for Mr Eddom.

“The dangers of staff working in close proximity to moving vehicles are well documented and the HSE offers clear guidance on how employers can ensure a safe working environment.

“We hope this prosecution acts as a warning to others about the importance of following these guidelines to protect the safety of workers and prevent similar incidents from occurring in future.”
Stephen Nye, Partner