Friday 16 August 2013

Pallets topple on lorry driver after forklift truck hits pothole in yard.

A Suffolk-based freight company has been fined for a series of safety breaches after a forklift truck toppled and spilled its load onto a worker, breaking his back.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on 9 January 2012 in the yard of  Eagle Freight Terminal Ltd, Great Blakenham.
  • The freight yard road surface was pitted with potholes and had been the subject of complaints by the company's employees over a significant period. 
  • There was little management of traffic movements and no instructions provided regarding segregation of workplace transport and pedestrians
  • Neil Jennings was waiting for his trailer to be loaded in the yard of premises when one of the forklifts doing the loading hit a pothole. 
  • The vehicle lurched sideways, shedding its pallets and boxes, one of which hit Mr Jennings.
  • He suffered multiple fractures to the vertebrae of his upper and middle back and was unable to work for several weeks. Mr Jennings can now only undertake light duties and can no longer carry out everyday tasks without pain and discomfort.
  • Two Improvement Notices were served by HSE on Eagle Freight after the incident requiring them to remedy the condition of the yard's surface and to introduce systems of control which would allow vehicles and pedestrians to circulate safely at the site. 
  • Despite two extensions of time to allow the remedial work to be completed, an inspection carried out in September 2012 revealed no work had been completed and neither of the Notices had been complied with.
  • The company had been subject to similar enforcement action by HSE as far back as 2002/3 about the lack of control of workplace transport.

Eagle Freight Terminal Ltd., was fined a total of  £54,621 (inc. costs).
The HSE Inspector  said:
"This was an entirely preventable injury caused by persistent disregard by Eagle Freight of basic safety measures. The company allowed the yard's surface to deteriorate so badly that forklift trucks were regularly destabilised when carrying loads. There was also no system to allow vehicles and pedestrians to move safely around each other and the forklift truck driver had not been given suitable training which resulted in him using unsafe work practices where the truck was driven with the forks and load lifted. The company's subsequent repeated failure to meet the requirements of the two improvement notices demonstrated their complete disregard for their legal responsibility to keep their employees, and non-employees visiting the site, safe. The risks of serious injury and, all too frequently, death, resulting from the failure to control the safe movement of vehicles and pedestrians are widely recognised. Putting safe working practices in place is often simple and inexpensive and where this doesn't happen the costs, both financial and personal, can be immense."

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