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Sauces firm prosecuted over forklift death

Date:
15 May 2014

A sauces manufacturer has been fined £140,000 after a forklift truck driver was killed at a factory in Runcorn.

Michael Moran was using his forklift truck to load a lorry trailer outside the factory on the Astmoor Industrial Estate on 18 April 2011 when another lorry reversed into the side of his vehicle. The forklift overturned, killing him instantly.

AAK UK Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found that forklift truck drivers had regularly driven onto a public road to load lorries, without the company putting any safety measures in place.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the 49-year-old from Warrington had been loading pallets containing tubs of mayonnaise onto the trailer. He had finished loading one side and had moved into the road to reach the other side of the trailer.

As he moved the forklift truck into position, a lorry that had been parked up alongside the trailer slowly started to reverse. Mr Moran shouted out and the HGV driver applied his brakes but it was too late to make a difference and the lorry hit the forklift truck.

The court was told that vehicles regularly visited the site with deliveries or to pick up loads of mayonnaise to distribute, with most reversing down Davy Road to avoid having to turn around in the cul-de-sac.

The company had not carried out an adequate assessment of the risks to its employees or visiting drivers using the ‘Goods Out’ area. Drivers were also not given any information, instruction or training on how to load the lorry trailers safely, and there was poor supervision.

AAK UK Ltd, of King George Dock in Hull, was fined £140,000 and ordered to pay £22,657 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Deborah Walker said:

“Our investigation revealed a chaotic and dangerous system, and sadly it was entirely foreseeable that someone was at risk of being badly injured or killed.

“Neither Mr Moran nor the lorry driver had any way of knowing they were both about to start operating their vehicles, and sadly Mr Moran did not have time to get out of the way when the HGV began to reverse.

“Following the incident, the company created a no-parking zone along the ‘Goods Out’ area by Davy Road which means there is now space for forklift truck drivers to load trailers without having to come out into the road. The firm also set up a booking-in system for vehicles delivering to the factory.

“If these simple measures had been in place at the time of the incident then Mr Moran’s tragic death could have been avoided.”

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. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk.

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