One of the world’s largest producers of adhesives for the construction industry has been fined after a worker died when he was pinned against a forklift truck by a reversing lorry in Halesowen.
Andrew Davies, 43 of Oldbury, died following the incident in the transport yard at Mapei UK Limited’s Steel Park Road base on 1 July, 2010. He had been asked to empty a machine, using a forklift truck to move a skip and then empty the contents of the skip into a bag that was held within a cage.
Wolverhampton Crown Court today (5 December) heard that a lorry driver was asked to move his vehicle by another driver so they could access the loading area. Around the same time, Mr Davies had left the cab of his forklift truck and moved to the front of the forklift truck.
The lorry driver reversed the 18-tonne rigid-back truck, unknowingly pinning Mr Davies between the back of the lorry and the cage which was resting on the forks of his forklift truck. His head was impaled against the forks, killing him instantly.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation revealed significant safety failings by Mapei UK Ltd. HSE found they had failed to segregate pedestrians and vehicles adequately in order to organise, supervise, manage and run their transport yard.
The yard did not have defined traffic routes or walkways, there were no ground markings and the yard was open with no physical restrictions on movement.
A system was in place to restrict vehicle movement whereby all drivers handed in their vehicle keys on arrival, but this didn’t apply to all vehicles. In this case, the lorry driver had not handed his keys in, meaning he did not have to seek Mapei UK Ltd’s authority or assistance when moving his vehicle.
HSE found Mapei UK Ltd considered the transport area a low priority in terms of risk, despite previous independent safety reports telling them the opposite.
Mapei UK Limited of Steel Park Road, Halesowen, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act and was fined a total of £173,332. The amount of costs to be paid will be agreed at a later date. Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Mahesh Mahey said:
“Numerous health and safety failings by Mapei UK Ltd led to this tragic incident in which Mr Davies needlessly lost his life.
“The dangers associated with vehicle movements are obvious and have been highlighted by HSE for many years.
“There were long-term, systematic failings by the company to adequately assess the risks and take sufficient control measures to ensure the transport yard was operated without posing a risk to the safety of those working there.
“Since Mr Davies’ death, Mapei UK Ltd has implemented more effective controls of vehicle movements, limiting movements to one vehicle at a time and installing a traffic marshal to supervise vehicle manoeuvres.
“The operation which Mr Davies was carrying out is also now done away from other vehicles.”
Mr Davies’ mother, Margaret Davies of West Bromwich, added:
“Andrew’s death hit me very hard, as I also lost my youngest daughter, Joyce, at just 36.
“It is really hard to explain the hurt, grief and anger I feel. A parent never thinks she will outlive her own children.
“Andrew was a good lad and his heart was in the right place, and he loved his job and going to work.
“He used to love going fishing on the beach in North Wales – that was his passion.
“They should have had proper safety procedures in place, and people directing drivers reversing big lorries, then this might never have happened.
“I look up sometimes towards the garden gate hoping they might walk down the path like they used to. I will never ever get over our son’s loss.”
For further information on HSE’s work with transport in the workplace, go to www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport
Notes to Editors:
1. 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
2. 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.”
3. Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”