Cargo firm fined £110,000 following forklift collision
Published on Wednesday, 11 April 2012 08:08
A cargo company has been found guilty of failing to separate vehicles and pedestrians at its docks in Cardiff, following an incident where a lorry driver was struck by a forklift.
Lorry driver Robert Deverell was collecting steel girders from Cargo Services (UK) Ltd’s premises at Cardiff Docks, when the incident took place on 18 June 2010. He was waiting for the last of the 18m steel beams to be loaded on to his lorry by a forklift.
Mr Deverell had placed wooden bearers between the stacks of beams on the lorry. When he stepped away from the vehicle, the forklift reversed and struck him, knocking him to the ground. The forklift ran over his right leg, which later had to be amputated from below the knee. He has been unable to return to work owing to his injuries.
The HSE visited the docks three days after the incident and found that Cargo Services had no measures in place to separate vehicles and pedestrians at the site. Inspectors examined the forklift and found the reversing alarm and horn were both broken. Maintenance records showed the horn had a recurring fault for more than four years. There were also no reversing mirrors on the vehicle, and the truck’s warning lights were broken.
Two Improvement Notices were immediately issued to the company, which required it to have a competent person to inspect and maintain the forklift, and install shielding over the vehicle to protect it from rain.
HSE inspector Hugh Emment told SHP the company had failed to put a safe system of work in place or monitor the activity. He said: “This incident highlights the importance of keeping people away from operated forklift trucks. Unfortunately workplace transport incidents are all too common and here you had a forklift truck moving only a short distance at slow speed but still causing a very serious injury.
“Employers should ensure that they have a robust safe system of work to ensure pedestrians, including visiting drivers, are kept at a safe distance from forklift trucks that are being operated.”
Cargo Services (UK) Ltd was found guilty of breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974 following a trial at Cardiff Crown Court. Sentencing took place on 4 April, and the company was fined £110,000 and ordered to pay £60,246 in costs.
In delivering his sentence, Judge Neil Bidder said: “The company failed to monitor the loading operations sufficiently. Despite carrying out a risk assessment it failed to check the findings against HSE guidance. Had it done so, the chances of this accident taking place would have been vastly reduced.”
In mitigation, the company said the lorry driver was experienced and it felt he put himself in a dangerous position. It complied with the enforcement notices and has now created a safe working zone for pedestrians to stand in during loading operations. The company had no previous convictions.