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 Forklift fall of 1.5m - worker fractures skull

Forklift fall of 1.5m - worker fractures skull

1 June 2012 Email this article

A worker fractured his skull, after falling from the prong of a forklift truck at an animal feed mill. The North Devon farming business, WJ Watkins and Son Ltd, where the man was working, has been prosecuted - due to safety failings that led to this accident.

The employee Richard Robinson, 64, from Pyworthy, near Holsworthy, had been trying to crush recycled material when he fell at Cross Mill, Holsworthy, Beacon, on the 3rd August last year. WJ Watkins and Son Ltd appeared before the Barnsatple Magistrates court on the 2nd May, in an HSE prosecution.

During the hearing, it was noted that some workers had formed their own way of operating, as the company had not secured any alternative methods, which would enable the workmen to reach the bags safely. The workers had devised a method of being lifted by forklifts and climbing into large bags of recycled material that were suspended in the air. Then they would trample down the material in the bags, making more room before lowering back down on the forklifts.

Mr Robinson fell about one-and-a-half metres from the forklift to the concrete below.

WJ Watkins and Son Ltd, of Highfield, Holsworthy Beacon, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for allowing dangerous working practices. The company was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,226.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector, Simon Jones, said:

"The company did not give enough thought to how employees were going to work on the bags that were suspended in the air. They were allowed to use a very unsafe method because there was no fixed alternative available to them. As a result Richard Robinson could easily have paid with his life.

"Working at height must be properly planned and supervised, and employers must ensure their staff have a safe system in place to prevent further incidents of this kind."