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Using forklifts for working at height

Using forklifts for working at height

25 June 2012 Email this article

Two teenage agency workers fell from a lifting platform – one breaking his back and the other breaking both heels, needing pins and a metal plate to be inserted in his feet. The Derbyshire manufacturing firm for which the employees were working, Storetec Limited and one of its directors, have been prosecuted by the HSE and fined as a result.

The two workers were working at the firm’s depot on sawpit Lane Industrial Estate in Tibshelf. They had been using a makeshift platform, designed by Storetec director Brian Crossan to fit a fork lift truck, to help load scrapped trolleys into a skip. When the two workers were being brought down to the ground, the platform was caught and dragged from the truck’s forks, causing the two workers to fall four and a half metres to the ground.

It was found that the company had not ensured the health and safety of its employees and Brian Crossan had not followed the guidelines and standards when designing the platform. The fork extensions did not fit properly into the platform and the plate did not have any chains or any other means of securing it to the fork lift truck, with an open edge.

After the hearing HSE inspector Fiona Coffey said:

"These two teenagers, who were just embarking on their working lives, narrowly escaped death and have now been left with life-changing physical and psychological injuries. One has even had to abandon his plans to join his father in the asphalt industry as it is too physically demanding.

"The company should have considered if it was necessary to use a platform like this in the first place, and if it was, used something that was legal and safe - this arrangement clearly was not.

"Mr Crossan put two teenagers in a dangerous position, without thought for the consequences."

Storetec Limited, registered at Europa House, Heathcote Lane, Warwick, pleaded guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Today, Derby Crown Court fined the firm £22,000 and ordered it to pay costs of £12,134 and a £15 victim surcharge.

Mr Crossan also pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, and was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay costs of £7,866 and a £15 victim surcharge.

Last year more than 6,300 employees suffered major injuries after falling from height at work.