H&S Legal Briefing January 2024: Recent Decided Cases (Q4 2023): A manufacturing company was fined half a million pounds after a forklift truck death.
A manufacturing company was fined £500,000 following the death of Jamie Anderson. Anderson died on June 4, 2019, after the forklift truck he was operating overturned at a depot in Newark. Anderson was discovered in the car park, trapped under the vehicle’s roll cage. He had been using a counterbalance forklift truck to move waste material when it collided with a curbstone and overturned. Anderson was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.
The HSE investigation found that his employer, The Barcode Warehouse Ltd., failed to enforce the use of seatbelts by forklift truck operators. They should have properly risk-assessed the use of forklift trucks on their premises and enforced forklift truck health and safety, and the use of seatbelts. Instead, it was left to individuals to choose whether to wear a seatbelt or not, in clear contravention of relevant guidance available on forklift truck safety in the workplace.
Barcode Warehouse Ltd. pleaded guilty to violating Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,039.55.
The hazards and risks associated with ignoring forklift truck safety in the workplace are often significantly underestimated. Although they are quiet, busy, and frequently used, forklift accidents at work can be severe and often fatal. Even when unloaded, lift trucks are very heavy, and there is little protection for pedestrians in case of incidents like collisions or overturning.
The three most common forklift accidents are:
- Pedestrians struck by a moving truck.
- Pedestrians or operatives were struck by a load falling from the truck.
- Overturn of the truck, impact, or crush injuries
It is imperative that if you operate forklift trucks on your site, you have the necessary, safe systems of work in place to protect operatives, pedestrians, and anyone else who may be affected by such operations.
Key Steps to Compliance:
- Undertake regular risk assessments and ensure that your risk assessments consider the use of the FLT, consider site and yard activities, evaluate loading and unloading operations, etc.
- Introduce appropriate control measures to reduce or remove any risks of forklift accidents at work wherever possible (including regular maintenance, room to manoeuvre on site, a safe working limit observed, speed limits, defined traffic routes, one-way systems, good lighting, pedestrian segregation, warning signage, training, etc.).
- Ensure all work is properly planned and supervised by competent people. Ensure that your site procedures consider regular FLT loading, unloading, and moving activities as well as irregular or unplanned (perhaps a delivery has arrived on a different type of vehicle that is more challenging to unload, or it has been left outside of your site boundary for some reason). Review your risk assessment and safe system of work for unloading activities; make sure what you are about to do on-site follows forklift truck health and safety every time.
- Ensure that you undertake regular safety checks of all items of work equipment. Forklift trucks are items of work equipment (and subject to all requirements of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, PUWER) as well as lifting equipment (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, LOLER).
- Forklift trucks should be inspected and checked daily before use, along with regular servicing visits. All forklift trucks and any accessories must be inspected every year by means of a thorough examination. This is effectively the equivalent of an MOT and is separate from scheduled regular maintenance visits.
- Ensure that appropriate training is provided for everyone who operates forklift trucks, and keep that training regularly refreshed. Use your site-based inspections and any near-miss reporting systems that you might have in place to review your current performance and provide confidence that all aspects of FLT use, workplace transport, and site-loading activities are being managed safely.