Garden Design Business Handed Financial Sanction For Forklift Fatality

In the dying embers of March 2023 the Health and Safety Executive through the medium of the Magistrates Court sitting in Grimsby decided to dish out a criminal conviction to a business that specialized in the provision of services of a garden design nature after a member of the workforce sustained which turned out to be life-ending injuries.         

What Happened In The Case?

The case seems to have revolved around a member of the workforce who was employed as a forklift vehicle operator at his workplace located in the county of Yorkshire in 2018. At the time the incident took place in the workplace, the member of the workforce was employed as a forklift vehicle operator at the garden design business’ working premises and his activities involved putting material onto a large wagon with a forklift truck. Matters escalated when the person responsible for driving the vehicle decided to drive the vehicle away from the place it was positioned in the working environment for the operator of the forklift vehicle to put the goods onto it. The famous adage goes that actions have consequences. This could not be more true in this instance as the decision by the wagon driver to drive the vehicle away from where it had been placed for the job had terrible consequences for the operator of the forklift vehicle. It seems like the action of driving the wagon away caused it to drag the forklift vehicle, toppled it and the colleague found himself stuck under it. Sadly the forklift vehicle operator passed away due to the injuries he had sustained.       

What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?

The HSE probed into the incident it found evidence indicating that the business had neglected to implement professional working practices surrounding the loading of materials onto wagons via forklift vehicles. More specifically the HSE was critical of the employer because it had neglected to ensure that the wagon was in a secure position and not being conveyed whilst forklift vehicles placing goods onto it. Closely related to this latter point the Health and Safety Executive was seemingly seething over the fact on the evidence suggested that the business had given any thought to the very real prospect of the wagon not remaining in a fixed position and moving whilst forklift vehicles were putting materials on board. It took a dim view of the employer’s behavior and found evidence suggesting that it had violated section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which puts legal demands on those employing the workforce to safeguard their health, safety, and wellbeing.        

Feet to the Fire?

When the case eventually worked its way over to the Magistrates Court located in Grimsby the justices were damned over the conduct which was exhibited by the garden design business and to send out a message of deterrence it imposed a substantial financial sanction in an amount over. 

Lessons Learned?

Every business utilizing forklift vehicles and wagons should absorb the message of this case and take the below action:
-    ensure communication is flowing between wagon and forklift vehicle drivers
-    implementing a policy whereby wagons are not driven whilst forklift vehicles are putting material onto wagons
-    forward planning to be able to anticipate risks such as forklift vehicles toppling over and 
-    members of the workforce are stuck underneath. 
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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