HSE Inspector’s visit to a Forklift Operator – A Case Study

In our last blog, we talked about what a forklift operator should expect from the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) visit. In this blog we look at a case study of the HSE inspector’s visit to a forklift operator.

In 2019, the HSE inspector made a routine visit to a stone handling company. It found issues with the lifting arm of the forklift truck and it was deemed not fit for purpose. A prohibition notice is issued if there is a risk of serious personal injury now or in the future. The prohibition notice stopped the use of the forklift truck until the lifting arm was replaced. The firm complied with the prohibition notice.

HSE Inspector’s visit to a Forklift Operator – A Case Study

However, 2 years later in 2021, there was a serious accident at the firm involving the same forklift truck and HSE investigated and prosecuted the company despite it going into liquidation. The accident occurred when 2 employees were trying to off-load two tonne set of ten stone slabs from a trailer. They had removed the packaging and each stone slab was to be removed individually by a forklift truck. The stone slabs began to topple while one of the employees altered a clamp attached at the end of the lifting arm of the forklift truck. Both men jumped from the trailer to avoid the toppling stone slabs. However, the falling slabs hit one of the employees’. He sustained a broken leg and severe bruising and was off work for ten months.

The HSE investigated and found:

  • The same lifting arm which had the probation notice was back in use
  • The forklift truck had not been serviced or maintained
  • No forklift truck operator training had taken place
  • The company and the director failed to implement a safe method of work
  • The employees’ had not been provided with any instructions or supervision on the day.

The company, in care of the liquidator, admitted to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc 1974. The company and its former director were fine £2000 each and had to pay £5000 in costs.

Ruth Wallace of Wallace Forklift Training in London said that “considering the weight of the stone slabs, quick reaction of the employees probably saved them from more serious injury or fatality. It is unclear whether the lack of forklift truck’s service, maintenance and operator training contributed to the accident. However, failure to implement a safe method of work and lack of instructions and supervision surely contributed and the use of the forklift truck’s lifting arm which had been under the prohibition notice was negligent”.

Wallace School of Transport including Forklift Training in London is a fully accredited RTITB company with over 50 years' experience. You can be trained either at your own work site or at Wallace Centre in Park Royal. If you have any questions, call Wallace Forklift Training on 020 8453 3440, choose option 3 or click here to email us.

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