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Company fined after worker suffers life-changing injury

Written by Phoenix Health & Safety
7th December 2017
welding company

A welding and fabrication company has been fined after an employee’s foot was crushed by a falling metal grid.

Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 15 December 2016, Nicholas Jenkin, an employee of Swadlincote Aluminium and Welding Co Ltd, had been instructed to paint several metal truck wash grids when one of the metal grids, weighing a tonne, slipped through the forks of a forklift and landed on his foot, crushing it. The employee suffered a broken foot, had to have three toes amputated, and is still undergoing hospital treatment. 

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed to properly plan the task or ensure the forklift driver had received adequate training to fully operate the vehicle. The company also failed to ensure a safe system of work was in place, such as the use of a sling on the forklift truck, which would have stopped the metal grid from slipping through the forks. Swadlincote Aluminium and Welding Co Ltd, of Unit 3 Suttons Business Park, Swadlincote, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £4,400 and ordered to pay costs of £860.40. 

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector David Keane said:

“This injury could have easily been prevented had thorough planning been carried out. Employers should make sure they properly assess and apply effective control measures to minimise the risk from injury while operating fork lift trucks.”

Phoenix comments: 

Lift trucks are widely used throughout industry for moving materials and goods, but they also feature prominently in worksite accidents. Every year there are about 8000 lift truck accidents resulting in injury, on average ten of them fatal. There are a few simple measures which can be taken to prevent lift truck accidents. Examples of these are:

  1. Managing lift truck operations using safe systems of work;
  2. Provision of adequate training for operators, supervisors and managers;
  3. Using suitable equipment for the job to be done;
  4. Laying out premises in such a way as to ensure that lift trucks can move safely; and
  5. Ensuring that lift trucks and premises are maintained properly.

HSE has published an Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and guidance called Rider-operated lift trucks: Operator training and safe use. Approved Code of Practice and guidance. This sets the minimum standard of basic training people should receive before they are allowed to operate certain types of lift truck - even if they only operate the equipment occasionally. It also provides detailed guidance about how they can meet this standard. The ACOP covers stacking rider-operated lift trucks, including articulated steering trucks. 'Rider-operated' means any truck that can carry an operator and includes trucks controlled from both seated and stand-on positions. If you employ anyone to operate a lift truck covered by the ACOP, you should make sure that operators have been trained to the standards it sets out.