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Safety lesson for paper mill in court

7 May 2013

A Swanley firm has been prosecuted after a worker at its warehouse was injured after being crushed between a forklift truck and a pallet of paper goods.

The Swan Mill Paper Company Ltd appeared at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court (7 May) and admitted safety failings that led to its employee, a local man, suffering several fractures to his leg and foot.

The incident, on 12 October 2011, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the company after finding that it could have been avoided if simple safety precautions had been taken.

The court was told that the man, who does not wish to be named, was in an aisle in the warehouse taking tickets off pallets that were filled with paper goods. The pallets were then to be put on racks at either side of the aisle. A colleague using a forklift truck to stack the pallets on the right hand side of the same aisle, reversed and backed into the worker, crushing him between the truck and the pallet.

The man suffered three breaks in his right ankle as well as two fractures to his left leg. He has since returned to work at the firm on light duties.

Swan Mill Paper Company, registered in Bloomsbury Street, London, was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,069 in costs after admitting a breach of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 at the Old Warehouse, Goldsel Road, Swanley.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Guy Widdowson said:

"The incident was entirely preventable. Swan Mill Paper Company failed to make sure that there was a safe vehicle and pedestrian system of work in place within their warehouse. Such a measure would have prevented vehicles being able to access areas where workers on foot were moving around. Such a system was entirely possible without any detriment to the work being done.

"Due to the clear dangers of pedestrians and vehicles interacting in the same areas, companies need to ensure, as much as they can, that workers on foot and forklift trucks on the move are properly separated.

"The incident at Swan Mill Paper Company was in a fairly narrow aisle with restricted visibility. The risk of a collision between a moving forklift and a warehouse operative while both are working in the same location is significant and should have been obvious to the company."

Information and advice about safe use of forklift trucks is available from HSE’s website at

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.
  2. Regulation 17(1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states: "Every workplace shall be organised in such a way that pedestrians and vehicles can circulate in a safe manner."

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