In April 2023, The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) fined AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings Limited £600,000 after a worker’s leg was crushed by a forklift truck. The accident occurred at the firm’s Birmingham site on Bordesley Green Road on 8 May 2018.
The man was walking across a pedestrian crossing when a forklift truck collided with him, crushing his leg and ankle. The forklift operator did not slow down while approaching the pedestrian crossing and his vision was restricted by multiple intermediate bulk containers. An intermediate bulk container (IBC) is a pallet mounted, reusable container that is used for storing and transporting bulk liquids and powders. Also known as a tote, the IBC is capable of stacking and can be moved by a forklift. The injured worker needed surgery and skin grafts following the accident. He was unable to return to work after the injury.
The HSE investigation found:
- AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings Limited failed to provide adequate risk assessment
- Failed to provide a safe system of work
- Lack of appropriate supervision which lead to adoption and development of an unsafe custom and practice of work on site
AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings Limited, of Wexham Road, Slough, Berkshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 which states that “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 its employees”. In addition to the £600,000 fine, the company was ordered to pay costs of £3,188 at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court.
HSE inspector Marie Wheeler said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by the employer adequately assessing the risks and ensuring a suitable workplace transport system was implemented with correct management and supervision in place. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”
Ruth Wallace of Wallace Forklift Training London commented that “It is obvious that there were issues with working practices at the firm as operating forklift truck with limited visibility and speed it was travelling at on the route probably known by the driver who should be aware where the pedestrian crossing existed. However, sometimes under work pressure, safety is compromised at heavy cost as in this instance. Maybe supervisors and managers should attend courses for safe working practices for forklift operation”.
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