Business Handed Financial Sanction After Colleague Collision With Forklift Truck

In April 2023 the Health and Safety Executive through the Magistrates Court sitting in Birmingham handed-down its judgment in the case of a commercial paint-making enterprise whose actions violated its health and safety legal obligations in respect of a member of the workforce by causing a forklift vehicle to crash into him resulting in physical crush-related harm to his limbs and more specifically his leg. The regulatory authorities assessed the evidence in front of it in respect of the incident which had taken place on that fateful day and handed down a financial sanction in an amount in excess of half a million pounds as was the extent of the damage sustained.      

What Happened In The Case?

The colleague was positioned on an internal traffic crossing located at the commercial premises operated by the employer. He seems to have been making progress across the road on foot. However, he was in for a rude awakening when a forklift operator vehicle failed to control his vehicle, a safe braking distance resulting in the forklift vehicle crashing into him causing bodily harm. When the HSE delved deeper into what had taken place during the incident it uncovered independent evidence appearing to suggest that the operator of the forklift vehicle neglected in his legal duties to reduce the speed of the vehicle on the lead-up to where the member of the workforce was proceeding on foot. There was also the reasonable suggestion that the person in charge of the vehicle was unable to see the view of the road ahead. This visual challenge appears to have been caused primarily by the presence of numerous large storage boxes. The incident did not exactly go well for the member of the workforce who had been crashed into during the incident at the workplace. As a consequence, the pedestrian was advised by medics to undergo operations and grafts to his skin. 

What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?

The regulatory authorities closely examined the events around the incident and were damning of the conduct of the paint-making business. The contemporaneous evidence seemed to give the suggestion that the manufacturer had neglected in its legal responsibilities to review the likelihood of events such as this taking place on its commercial premises or adequate working practices. The HSE commented that the employer had neglected to provide the correct oversight over the workforce which may have reduced the likelihood of future incidents. It was scathing of the attitude of the employer in breaching section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 placing responsibilities on employers to safeguard staff wellbeing.    

Feet to the Fire?

The Magistrates Court was seething over what had taken place and made an example of the business by throwing the proverbial book at them by serving up a financial sanction of approximately half-a-million pounds. 

Lessons Learned?

Companies using forklift trucks should remember that such vehicles cause twenty-five percent of workplace incidents and be implementing oversight procedures. Forklift operators need to ensure they are:

  • keeping a proper lookout by removing bulky boxes from the driving mechanism, 
  • a safe braking distance and 
  • avoiding collisions with their colleagues. 

These measures should work along-side education for members of the workforce so they are competent to use such machinery and are able to communicate with each other to mitigate the risk of such incidents occurring.     
Doing so will mitigate the risk of such incidents occurring in the future. If you have experienced something similar, or have an opposing viewpoint, please kindly leave a comment on the article or contact us.   
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