A Croydon company that builds truck bodies has been prosecuted after a worker’s leg was crushed by a pack of six-metre steel sheets weighing almost 4 tonnes when it slid and fell during unloading.
Self-employed lorry driver Andrew Trotter, 52, from Stoke on Trent, was working alongside employees of Thompsons (UK) Ltd at their site in New Addingham on 5 January 2012 when he was injured.
Mr Trotter had delivered the sheet metal packs in his flatbed lorry and Thompson workers were unloading them using a tandem lift by two counter-balanced forklift trucks. The packs were being re-loaded onto a separate lorry before being taken to the firm’s factory.
However, the re-loading was unbalanced and as a second pack was being placed on the first, a loose wooden baton became dislodged and the whole sheet steel pack started to slide. Mr Trotter, who was picking up straps between the two lorries, was struck by the corner of the pack before it hit the concrete floor.
He suffered a fractured leg and muscle damage and has limited knee and ankle movement. He has had to return for hospital treatment when swelling of his leg has caused skin splitting and infection.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated and prosecuted Thompsons (UK) Ltd at Westminster Magistrates’ Court (16 Oct) for two breaches of health and safety legislation.
The court heard that HSE found a lack of planning led to Mr Trotter being able to work in close proximity to the chassis lorry as the hazardous re-loading was taking place. The tandem lift was a complicated procedure that had been neither properly planned nor supervised. Had it been controlled and directed competently, the risk of any incident would have been significantly reduced.
Thompsons (UK) Ltd of Vulcan Way, New Addington, Croydon, was fined a total £14,000 and ordered to pay £11,284 in costs after admitting a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations and a separate breach of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations.
After the court case, HSE Inspector Matt Raine said:
“This incident could easily have resulted in death and was completely preventable. The injuries Mr Trotter sustained have been painful and life-changing and, although he can drive his lorry, it is not certain how long he will be able to do so.
“Thompsons (UK) Ltd failed to make sure that the lifting operation of the sheet metal was properly planned and supervised and then, of course, carried out safely. In addition they had not provided adequate training in the use of the forklift trucks to one of their employees involved in the lifting operation.
“Employers must ensure that work equipment is used in the correct way and that only trained people are allowed to operate such equipment.”
Information on the safe use of lifting equipment, including forklift trucks, is available at www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery.
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
- Regulation 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 states: “Every employer shall ensure that every lifting operation involving lifting equipment is properly planned by a competent person; appropriately supervised; and carried out in a safe manner.”
- Regulation 9(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: “Every employer shall ensure that all persons who use work equipment have received adequate training for purposes of health and safety, including training in the methods which may be adopted when using the work equipment, any risks which such use may entail and precautions to be taken.”