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Firm sentenced after forklift truck ran over worker’s leg and foot

Date:
24 July 2014

An Aberdeen firm has been fined for safety failings after a worker was injured when a forklift truck ran over his leg and foot.

Derek Bonnar, 51, from Aberdeen, was working for Scotoil Services Ltd at its premises in Miller Street when the incident occurred on 17 August 2012.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court was told today (24 July) that Mr Bonnar was one of four men working in two teams to pressure-wash naturally-occurring radioactive material from components in two large wash bays, both in a restricted zone on site.

At one stage Mr Bonnar was working alone cleaning down one of the bays when a colleague from the second team returned driving a forklift truck. While the driver reversed the forklift and then moved forward to load components, Mr Bonnar was walking backwards while hosing down the next bay. The truck collided with Mr Bonnar, driving over his left leg and right foot.

Mr Bonnar suffered a broken leg and fractures to his foot. He spent a week in hospital and a further seven weeks in a wheelchair. He has since returned to work.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Scotoil had failed to provide sufficient segregation between pedestrians and vehicles in the restricted zone. It also failed to provide sufficient instructions to control vehicle movements in the area while pedestrians were working.

Scotoil carried out its own investigation into the incident and made a number of recommendations. However, no changes had been made to the system of work or the physical layout of the site when HSE visited six weeks after the incident. HSE issued a Prohibition Notice preventing the use of vehicles in the area until a safe system of work had been implemented so vehicles and pedestrians could work together safely.

The court heard there had been a similar incident a year earlier, in 2011, when a Scotoil employee was injured when he was struck by a forklift truck which was reversing within a building on the site. HSE took enforcement action, requiring Scotoil to make improvements to the layout of the building so that pedestrians and vehicles could circulate safely within it.

Scotoil Services Ltd, of Davidson House, Miller Street, Aberdeen, was fined £5,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 17(1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Sarah Forbes, said:

“Scotoil Services Ltd was aware of the need for vehicles to be working in this area at the same time as workers, but despite this it failed to put measures, such as walkways or marked transport routes, in place to prevent the risk of vehicles colliding with pedestrians.

“The company had taken action after the 2011 incident which went over and above that required by HSE’s improvement notice at the time. However, the risks in the controlled zone were not fully recognised and similar safety measures had not been installed.

“The dangers associated with vehicle movements around pedestrians are well-known. Every year there are over 5,000 incidents involving transport in the workplace. About 50 of these result in people being killed.

“This incident was entirely avoidable. Instead Mr Bonnar was left with a painful injury, and needed several months to recover.”

For more information about workplace transport safety log onto the HSE website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/index.htm

Notes to Editors:

1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 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. In Scotland the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has sole responsibility for the raising of criminal proceedings for breaches of health and safety legislation.

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

4. HSE news releases are available at press.hse.gov.uk

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