Damaged trolley brings £130k fine for metals supplier

A metal stockholder has been fined after a faulty trolley used to carry stainless steel bars fell on an agency worker’s legs, severely injuring him.

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Luke Simpson and another member of staff were manually moving the four-wheeled trolley loaded with 18 metal bars and weighing approximately 900 kg at Smiths Metal Centres’ site in Bedfordshire.

The trolley tipped over, Luton Magistrates’ Court was told, and the bars toppled off trapping Simpson. He was taken to hospital with a broken leg and crushed foot, most of which had to be amputated despite multiple operations. He now has a prosthetic foot and has returned to work on a part-time basis only.

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) investigation found that Smiths Metal acquired several trolleys to be used as workstations and they had been on site for around 20 years without incident. However, employees were also using them to transport metal stock around the site and there was no risk assessment or written system of work. The trolley involved in the accident had faulty wheels and there was no maintenance record.

The trolleys have since been set a safe working load limit of 500 kg.

Smiths Metal Centres pleaded guilty to breaching s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was fined £130,000 with costs of £2,456.

Phoenix comment “This life changing injury could have been prevented if risk assessments had been conducted. Having no previous injuries is not a predictable measure to state the likelihood of future injuries as zero and is certainly not an acceptable reason for not conducting risk assessments. The management of risk does not need to be complicated or time-consuming, but it does allow consideration during work activities to stop and identify what controls are required to reduce health and safety risks”.