The driver – Darren Andrews, aged 49 and an employee of a transport services firm – was making a delivery in a lorry to CWT Commodities (UK) when the accident happened on December 19 last year, Basildon Crown Court was told.
The delivery consisted of a shrink-wrapped pallet of a number of boxes containing castor wheels sitting on top of a wooden case.
Struck the driver
A forklift driver employed by CWT Commodities (UK) Ltd was unloading the delivery from the lorry’s trailer. After the forklift reversed clear of the trailer, the pallet fell to the side of the forklift truck and struck the driver as he was standing beside the cab watching the operation.
As a result of the accident, the driver suffered significant, life threatening injuries and was airlifted to Royal London Hospital where he stayed for three weeks. He was then moved to a Bristol hospital for a further week.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation revealed that while a risk assessment for the activity had been undertaken, it did not detail a risk to visiting drivers. However the assessment did state drivers should return to the vehicle’s cab, or stand a ‘safe distance’ away from the operation.
‘Not being robustly … implemented’
The probe also uncovered that it was common for visiting drivers to stand next to their cabs or near the forklift truck. “The risk assessment identified the risk, but it was not being robustly or consistently implemented,” said the HSE.
CWT Commodities (UK) Ltd, of Tilbury Docks, Tilbury, Essex was fined a total of £22,000 and ordered to pay £4,639 in costs after pleading guilty to an offence under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
“The incident has had profound and long-term effects on him and he will be unable to return to work as a heavy goods vehicle driver,” said the HSE in a statement after the prosecution.
For more advice about safety in workplace linked to transport, visit the HSE website.