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Confectionary company fined after forklift accident

A company that produces confectionary has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after one of its workers was injured after a forklift speared his foot.

The 48 year old suffered life changing injuries after the spears of a forklift truck pierced his foot and broke numerous bones as a result. The accident happened when the injured man was manoeuvring his ride on pallet truck close to an entrance, a forklift came through the plastic strip curtains over the entrance and collided with him, causing the injury.

The injury was so severe that the worker nearly had his foot amputated but surgeons managed to save it and he spent 9 days in hospital recovering. He will also have to go through months of physio as a result of the injury. He can only walk short distances, with the aid of a stick, and will be unable to drive and therefore unable to return to work.

The HSE investigation found the company guilty of a breach of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. The HSE ruled that the plastic curtains, designed to keep out insects and birds, actually obscured the workers view and prevented safe entry and exit through the passageway. The court was also told how the area itself was cluttered and overcrowded with pallets from two other warehouses and maintenance work also restricted the space available for the forklift drivers to operate in.

The HSE felt this was an entirely avoidable accident as there had been three accidents reported in the same location in the previous months. The worker concerned had already been involved in a collision at the same entrance and suffered only minor bruising on that occasion.

An HSE investigator said,

“The company introduced physical hazards onto route ways without assessing their effects, and the result can best be described as chaotic. The fact that there were three collisions in just three months in the same spot shows this wasn’t just a one off incident but something that was almost inevitable.

“Employees had raised concerns about restricted vision when driving through the plastic curtains and the overcrowding in the area, but the management team ignored these concerns.”

In all of the instances the plastic curtain was found to be a cause as it prevented the drivers from safely seeing if the entrance was clear. They have now been removed and the company has been fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £9,538 in court costs.

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