Linde Creighton Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), after 58-year-old Terence Jones fractured a vertebra in his back when one of its vehicles fell from a lorry.
Black Country Magistrates’ Court was told the accident happened as Jones unloaded the forklift at the firm’s West Bromwich factory on October 21 2013. While driving the vehicle down a ramp, the ramp dislodged from the trailer, causing it and the forklift to fall 1.2 metres to the ground.
Not securely attached
An HSE investigation revealed the ramp had not been securely attached to the trailer using two chains intended to provide security. Although one of the two chains had been attached correctly, the other was allowed to overhang bushes.
Magistrates were told the firm had failed to risk assess the risks associated with the loading. It had also failed to monitor and enforce a safe system of work to ensure staff used safety features when attaching the ramp.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Caroline Lane said the worker had used the ramp at least twice a day to unload fork lift truck deliveries since the company bought it in 2008.
‘Personnel could fall’
“The ramp manufacturer had provided instructions for its use, and safety warnings,” said Lane. “Precautions in the operating and maintenance manual clearly stated that unless restrained, the ramp could move away from the dock of the vehicle and that personnel could fall.”
The accident was entirely foreseeable and preventable, said Lane. “Linde Creighton had a clear, easily achievable standard to meet but failed to achieve it, resulting in a painful injury to a member of staff.”
Linde Creighton Ltd, of Kingsclere Road, Basingstoke, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £1,144 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Earlier this month a meat wholesaler was ordered to pay £20,000, after another successful HSE prosecution. MIB United Meat Ltd, of Enfield, Middlesex, was ordered to pay the money after operating what the HSE slammed as “a fault-ridden forklift” truck and for falsifying records in an attempt to mislead safety inspectors.
The latest case follows six successful prosecutions for health and safety offences involving forklift trucks – including one fatality – so far this year.