Fork lift trucks are an essential piece of equipment in many workplaces, and although there are obvious risks associated with their use these risks can be minimised through comprehensive training and a safe system of work.
Unfortunately however, too many employers fail to protect their employees by making sure that any work involving fork life trucks is safely planned and controlled. As a result of these failings workers are put at risk and some sustain serious or even fatal injuries.
Overturned Fork Lift Truck Leads to Loss of Life
In one incident recently reported by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a 19-year-old worker tragically lost his life when a fork lift truck (FLT) he was driving overturned.
He was apparently driving the FLT during night time hours down a sloping roadway, when it overturned, causing him fatal crush injuries.
When the HSE investigated the incident, it found that the employee was not adequately trained nor was he wearing a seatbelt at the time of the FLT overturning. It also found the company did not inform their employees of the speed limit on-site, had not put measures in place to control the speed of vehicles, and failed to have adequate lighting and edge protection in place to avoid FLTs overturning.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. It was fined £450,000 and ordered to pay costs of £71,778.
Incident was Easily Preventable
“This tragic incident could have easily been prevented,” commented HSE inspector Berian Price, speaking after the court hearing. “The company’s management of fork lift truck driving operations and its failure to provide various measures to ensure the safety of the external yard area coupled with the lack of safe driver measures, such as wearing a seat belt, exposed employees to serious safety risks.”
“Sadly, in this case, these failures resulted in the needless loss of Mr Pallier-Singleton’s life,” he added.
A second incident reported by the HSE also led to the death of a worker who had been driving a fork life truck.
He was transporting tyres when the FLT ran over a loose tyre in the road and overturned. He was crushed between the FLT and the ground and later died from his injuries. He also was not wearing a seat belt. Health and safety issues are more prominent in construction, restoration specialists and tradesmen.
No Policy on Seatbelt Use
The subsequent investigation by the HSE revealed that there was no company policy in place instructing workers to wear seatbelts when operating fork lift trucks. The investigation also found if the tyres had been stored securely this would have prevented them rolling onto the roadway and would have reduced the risk of the FLT overturning.
“This tragic incident could have easily been prevented if the company had enforced and monitored the wearing of seat belts for fork lift truck drivers,” commented HSE Principal Inspector David Butter.
If you have been injured as a result of an accident at work, then contact our specialist personal injury lawyers today to find out more about claiming compensation.
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