A Bilston shotblasting firm has been fined after a heavy vehicle chassis crushed a worker’s leg when it slipped from a forklift truck during a flawed lifting operation.
Jason Atwell, 42, from Dudley, broke his lower right leg in the incident at Jackson Shotblasters Ltd, on Dale Street, on 17 May 2012. He was unable to work for nearly eight months and still suffers from aches and stiffness .
Jackson Shotblasters was prosecuted today (8 October) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation identified serious safety failings.
Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court heard that employee Mr Atwell was working with a colleague to manoeuvre a large chassis weighing around 1,700kg onto metal stands in a booth ready for shotblasting.
He was standing in the booth while his colleague operated a forklift truck to lower the chassis onto the stand. Without warning the chassis slipped from the forks of the truck and fell onto his legs, crushing them and pinning him against the booth wall.
HSE’s investigation found that the forklift truck used was a standard size, with standard length forks that were approximately 1.6m long. These were not long enough to safely lift the 2.4m wide chassis.
Magistrates were told the incident was preventable had suitable lifting equipment, such as a larger fork lift truck or a crane appropriate to the size of the chassis, been used instead.
Jackson Shotblasters also failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment for the task, or properly supervise the work. Mr Atwell had not been trained on how to safely lift a chassis, or other items, in and out of a shotblasting booth.
The court heard that during the investigation a number of other safety failings that were unconnected to the incident came to light.
Several enforcement notices were served to stop unsafe activity, including:
• Spraying 2-pack aerosol paints in an open workshop. It is well known that 2-pack paints contain isocyanate, a respiratory sensitiser that can cause irreversible health problems.
• Employees working in noisy areas of the factory without appropriate hearing protection. They should have been designated as hearing protection zones.
• A lack of suitable health surveillance.
Jackson Shotblasters Ltd, of Jackson House, Dale Street, Bilston, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £3,912 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Speaking after the prosecution, HSE Inspector Judith Lloyd said:
“This incident was entirely preventable – the risks were significant and should have been obvious to the company. Jackson Shotblasters failed to make sure that there was a safe system of work for lifting the chassis and other fabrications at its premises.
“There were also a significant number of other matters of concern at the site, which resulted in several enforcement notices being served. This suggests a systemic failure on the part of Jacksons to manage a wide range of risks to the health, safety and welfare of its employees and potentially, others visiting the site.”
Notes to editors
- The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
- Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.