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4th August 2014

Timber firm fined £15K over worker’s injuries

A timber company has been recently been fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £9,850 costs after an employee was run over by a forklift truck.

Nottingham Magistrates’ Court heard that James Abrahams was walking alongside the forklift to steady a pallet of fencing being transported at Jon Walker Timber Product Ltd’s yard at Mansfield Lane, Calverton, when the incident happened on 30 July 2012.

He suffered leg fractures, broken and dislocated toes and deep grazing, was hospitalised for 12 days and unable to work for a number of months. He has not returned to the company.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation at the company and found a number of failings:

  • There was no safe system of work for transporting pallets through the yard.
  • A risk assessment was not carried out and employees had not been provided with adequate training, information or instruction.
  • Pedestrians and vehicles were working in close proximity.
  • The forklift driver’s licence had expired four months prior to the incident and forklifts were operated by other unlicensed drivers.

The court heard that the firm had been issued with an Improvement Notice in 2001 for a lack of risk assessments, and written advice had previously been given by HSE on workplace transport issues, including forklift driver training.

After the hearing the HSE inspector involved in the case said:

“This incident could so easily have resulted in a fatality and was entirely preventable.

“It had become the usual procedure, when pallets were leaning or unstable, for employees to walk alongside forklift trucks to hold the loads steady. It was this unsafe practice that led to serious injury.

“Vehicles at work are a major cause of fatal and severe injuries with more than 5,000 incidents involving workplace transport every year. Providing a safe system of work based upon the findings of a suitable risk assessment and adequately training, informing and instructing of staff makes incidents such as this significantly less likely.”

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