Company fined after workers injured in forklift truck crash
4th February 2021
A carpet sample book manufacturer has been fined after two workers were seriously
injured in an incident where a forklift truck crashed into an onsite refuse skip.
Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how on 29 July 2019, three workers at Profile Patterns Limited had been emptying waste from plastic bins at their site in Wigan. They were using a forklift truck to raise the bins to a height that enabled a worker at either side of the truck to manually tip the bins into a skip. When one of the bins became trapped between the side of the skip and the forks, the driver of the forklift truck climbed on top of the skip to free the bin whilst the other two employees remained standing at either side of the forklift truck. Another employee was asked to reverse the forklift truck to aid the release of the bin.
However, after reversing, the forklift truck then moved forward crashing into the skip causing the employee on top of the skip to fall. One of the workers standing at the side of the truck became impaled by her right arm by the fork. The two workers sustained serious fractures that required hospital treatment.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Profile Patterns Limited did not take effective measures to ensure the health and safety of employees in relation to the risks arising from the use and operation of forklift trucks. The company failed to implement a safe system of work and provide adequate instruction and training to employees. It was established that tipping bins into the skip in this way was normal working practice that had taken place over a considerable length of time, throughout which employees were placed at significant risk.
Profile Patterns Limited of Makerfield Way, Ince Wigan, Lancashire, pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,435.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Emily Osborne said: “The risk of injury from this unsafe working practice was foreseeable and the incident could so easily have been avoided.
“Profile Patterns Limited should have put in place a number of safety measures including appropriate segregation of vehicles and pedestrians and a safe system of work for emptying the bins.
“Those in control of work also have a responsibility to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in order to carry out work safely.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
COVID-19 Update - 7 January 2021 (UK only)
HSE (Health & Safety Executive) have reviewed and slightly
amended their pre-Christmas statement regarding lift truck operator training and Covid19. HSE have confirmed that urgent and essential lift truck operator training can continue during the
current national lockdown. In the statement the HSE have provided 10 points of consideration for employers and training providers which will help to manage the risk of COVID-19 transmission
during training (bold text below).
Cleared statement from HSE - 7th January 2021
Employers are required to ensure that their staff are trained and competent to operate any industrial lift truck equipment they use. Initial or refresher training may be required for new starters, for existing staff using new types of equipment, or as a refresher for existing staff.
Lift-truck operators, even those who are trained
and experienced, need to be routinely
monitored in the workplace and, where necessary, retested or given refresher training to make sure they continue to operate lift trucks safely. There is no specific time period in law after which refresher training or a formal assessment is required. However, employers may decide that automatic refresher training or a retest after a set period (for example 3-5 years) is the best way to make sure staff remain competent.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, employers and training providers should apply the hierarchy of control to manage the risks of training and consider:
Face coverings are not PPE and should not be used as a substitute for suitable risk control measures.
Employers should consult the Government COVID-19 guidance at Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance and support - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) when deciding how training can be carried out safely. It remains the employer’s responsibility to not allow anyone to operate lift trucks on any premises without authorisation.
Authorisation should only be given where employees have completed suitable training in line with the guidance at https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg462.pdf and have achieved an appropriate level of operating ability.
Take care and Stay safe
There has been considerable confusion in the marketplace as to whether low-lift equipment such as a hand pallet truck – which only raises the load sufficiently clear of the floor to enable horizontal movement – is subject to LOLER examination. BITA guidance has always been that this equipment is not carrying out a lifting operation, and is not, therefore, subject to LOLER.
The HSE confirms this view and has recently updated its Approved Code of Practice to clarify that LOLER applies to “high-lift pallet trucks, both manual and powered, that have the ability to raise the forks above 300mm”. The approved code of practice can be downloaded free of charge from https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l113.htm
Use of mobile phones on Fork lift trucks
The HSE publication: Use Lift Trucks Safely (INDG457) clearly states:
NEVER use mobile phones or other hand-held devices while operating or travelling a lift truck.
Further information is available in the following publications which are readily available from HSE Books. You can also contact HSE Books on 01787 881165.
Title: Use Lift Trucks Safely
HSE Code: INDG457
Issue year: 201