Unsafe forklift practice “would have been obvious to anyone”05 September 2012
A worker severed three of his fingers when his hand became trapped while he was being lowered on the prongs of a forklift truck.
The incident took place at PRF Engineering’s factory in Skelmersdale, Lancashire, on 19 May last year. The company manufactures shelters for bikes and supermarket trolleys. On the day of the incident, the worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, was helping to transport a metal sheet, three metres in width.
The worker and a colleague stood on top of the sheet to stabilise it on the prongs of the forklift so it could be moved, but as the sheet was lowered the worker’s left hand became trapped and three of his fingers were severed. Surgeons managed to reattach his fingers, but he has only been able to regain partial use of his hand.
The HSE investigated the incident and found that the company hadn’t carried out a proper risk assessment for the work. HSE inspector Imran Siddiqui explained that the firm shouldn’t have allowed employees to stand on top of the forks, but should have found an alternative means to transport the sheets of metal, such as using a large metal basket.
Inspector Siddiqui said: “The company should simply not have allowed workers to stabilise sheets of metal by standing on top on them on forklift trucks. It would have been obvious to anyone witnessing this that it was unsafe.
“If PRF Engineering carried out a proper assessment of the risks its employees faced then this incident could have been avoided.”
PRF Engineering appeared at Ormskirk Magistrates’ Court on 3 September and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £6000 and ordered to pay £5164 in costs.
After the hearing, inspector Siddiqui added: “This incident resulted in an employee suffering permanent damage to his left hand because not enough thought was put into his safety.”
SHP has attempted to contact the company for mitigation.
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