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Halifax firm’s failings put teenager in hospital

Date:
26 April 2013

A West Yorkshire company has been prosecuted for breaching safely law after a 1.5 tonne pallet toppled on to a teenage worker, trapping him by the legs.

Halifax Magistrates heard today (26 April) that the 18-year-old warehouse worker suffered a broken leg in the incident at THS Industrial Textiles Ltd, Heathfield Business Park, in Elland on 16 March 2011.

The man, who lives in Halifax but does not wish to be named, was in hospital for three days and has since recovered and found a job elsewhere.

The injury prompted an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which brought the prosecution against the company after uncovering a series of safety failings.

The court was told the employee was inside a container unloading pallets when a double-stacked pallet fell over. HSE found THS Industrial Textiles had operated a dangerous system of work for unloading the pallets for a considerable time and failed to provide workers with the right equipment to do the job safely.

The pallets were being dragged by workers using straps across the container floor to get them closer to the doors so they could be lifted off by a forklift truck. They were also being dragged on the end of the forks to get them closer to the doors. In addition the truck, which didn’t have a valid lifting certificate at the time of the incident, was carrying pallets that were heavier than its capacity.

Another worker had warned the firm before the incident that the forklift was being used to lift loads that were too heavy, but this had been ignored.

THS Industrial Textiles was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £4,994 in full costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector David Welsh said:

"A young worker suffered a serious injury that could have been far worse as a result of this company’s numerous failures. This was not an isolated breach as it was clear these unloading operations had been taking place in an unsafe manner for some time.

"THS Industrial Textiles was very poor at assessing and managing risks arising from this work, despite its dangers being well recognised within the industry.

"Unloading pallets appears to be a simple operation but it needs to be planned carefully, workers need the right equipment for each kind of unloading task, and the employer needs to actively supervise them."

For advice on safe lifting, visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/planning-organising-lifting-operations.htm

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."

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