Forklifts being used to lift worker results in tragic death
Two companies have been fined a total of £100,000 following the death of a maintenance worker who fell from the forks of a forklift truck at a Macclesfield factory.
Martin Denton, 60, was being lifted in a metal container, known as a stillage, on 10 June 2006 when it slipped off and he fell approximately four metres to the concrete floor below. The father-of-three from Rotherham died in hospital later that day from head injuries.
Millennium Rubber International Ltd and United Crane Services Ltd were both prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at Millennium Rubber's factory at Nab Works, Long Lane, Pott Shrigley.
Chester Crown Court was told United Crane Services had been hired to repair an overhead crane at the factory but had allowed Mr Denton to be lifted in a container designed for materials rather than people.
The HSE investigation found that it had been standard practice for Millennium Rubber to use containers and pallets on forklift trucks to lift workers, despite neither being designed, nor safe, for that purpose.
Mr Denton's widow, Kitty, said:
"The day Martin was killed was the worst day of our lives, sending shock through the family. After five years we still feel the hurt every day, and it doesn't get any easier.
"Martin went to work that morning a fit and healthy, loving family man, and didn't come home to us. Life without him is very different and very difficult. Everyday life will never be the same.
"His death has left a massive hole in not only my life, but that of his three grown-up children and eight grandchildren, and the rest of our family and friends.
"We feel really let down by the companies he was working for. The accident should never have happened and we wouldn't want anyone else to go through what we are going through."
Millennium Rubber, which produces rubber surfaces for running tracks and children's playgrounds, admitted two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by putting workers' safety at risk. It was fined £90,000 and ordered to pay £21,411 in prosecution costs in a sentencing hearing a Warrington Crown Court on 9 December 2011.
United Crane Services, of Claywheels Lane in Sheffield, also pleaded guilty to one breach of the same act for failing to ensure the safety of its employee, Mr Denton. It was fined £10,000 with costs of £5,000.
HSE Principal Inspector Tanya Stewart added:
"Mr Denton died because neither company followed basic health and safety procedures for working at height. He should never have been expected to stand in a metal stillage, balanced dangerously on the forks of a forklift truck.
"The companies simply did not consider the risks Mr Denton might face if he carried out the repair work to the overhead crane in this way. They should have made sure a safe system for the work was in place before allowing him to start.
"It's disgraceful that the practice of lifting workers on forklift trucks had taken place on many other occasions. Sadly, it was therefore almost inevitable that someone would be seriously injured or killed."
A total of 27 workers were killed and more than 3,800 suffered major injuries in the manufacturing industry in Great Britain in 2010/11. Information on preventing injuries is available at www.hse.gov.uk/manufacturing.