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Worker falls from forklift truck

Worker falls from forklift truck

29 September 2011 Email this article

A worker could have been killed when he fell off a forklift truck in Leigh while trying to climb onto its roof, a court has heard.

The 29-year-old man from Tyldesley, who has asked not to be named, struck his head on the ground and was knocked unconscious for several minutes in the incident at Moss Industrial Estate on St Helens Road in Leigh.

His employer, Serviceplan Contracts Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to make sure the work was planned, supervised and carried out safely.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court in Sale was told the worker had been trying to climb on the roof of the forklift to carry out work to the lifting equipment on 3 August 2010. He suffered severe headaches, a painful swelling to his head, and was off work for one week as a result of the fall.

The HSE investigation found it was common practice for Serviceplan’s employees to service the lifting mast and chains on a forklift truck by climbing on top of it.

However, they should have been given a stepladder or mobile steps to use to reach the equipment safely. Some of the work could also have been carried out from the ground

Serviceplan Contracts Ltd admitted breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company, of Smallbrook Lane in Leigh, was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 in prosecution costs on 30 September 2011.

Speaking after the hearing, Emily Osborne, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:

"One of Serviceplan’s employees was knocked unconscious and suffered a head injury as a result of the fall but it could have been a lot worse – possibly even fatal.

"He had been trained to carry out the work by standing on the roof of the forklift truck, despite there being a serious risk of him being injured in a fall. But Serviceplan simply hadn’t considered the potential dangers of working at height in this way.

"Workers face being seriously injured if they fall just a few feet. It’s therefore vital that companies plan work at height, supervise it appropriately and carry it out safely with the appropriate equipment."

On average, 50 people are killed in Great Britain each year as a result of a fall from height and nearly 9,000 are seriously injured. Information on working safely at height is available at www.hse.gov.uk/falls.