A large steel fabrication company based in North Yorkshire, has been fined after a forklift truck (FLT) operator was killed when the truck he was operating overturned. However, the offence to which the company pleaded guilty was not a significant cause of the fatal accident.
Teesside Crown Court heard how 27-year-old Kelvin McGibbon was reversing the forklift truck when it struck some steps causing it to overturn. Mr McGibbon was not wearing a seatbelt and suffered crush injuries which proved fatal.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident which occurred on 13 March 2013 found that Severfield (UK) Limited failed to manage forklift truck driving operations. They did not enforce the wearing of seat-belts or control the speed at which some FLT operators drove their trucks.
Severfield (UK) Limited, of Severs House, Dalton Airfield Industrial Estate, Dalton, Thirsk, North Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to a non-causative breach of Regulation 5(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and was fined £135,000 and ordered to pay costs of £46,020.
HSE inspector David Welsh said after the hearing: “A company has a legal duty for the health and safety of people working on its site, whether they are employees or not. They are required to assess risks, eliminate them where possible and enforce proper control measures, such as seat belt wear, by checking that safe driving practices are being followed to deal with the risks that remain.
“Sadly, in this case, the prosecution shows that the company’s management of FLT driving operations and risk control measures failed which exposed employees to danger.” For further information on fork lift trucks visit: http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/lift-trucks/
“Overturning poses the biggest threat to forklift truck operators. When a forklift overturns, the safest place for an operator is in the cabin with the seatbelt on. This ensures the operator cannot try to jump out of the way or fall underneath the forklift if it tips. Hence since 2002, counterbalanced trucks, rough-terrain trucks and side-loading trucks, one side only, must be fitted with an operator restraining system (a seat belt). For older trucks, a restraining system should be fitted if the risk assessment indicates that there is a risk of the vehicle overturning and where the operator may be trapped between the truck and the ground. It is therefore the responsibility of the employer to ensure risk assessments are completed and where restraining systems are fitted they should be used. This is a tragic accident that could have been prevented with a sensible risk management approach and the education and enforcement of seatbelts”.