September 5, 2017

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Fork lift death case: £450k fine after workers exposed to serious safety failures

A 19-year-old worker was killed when a fork lift truck (FLT) overturned and crushed him.

Manchester Crown Court (Minshull Street) heard how on 10 February 2015 Ben Pallier-Singleton was driving a FLT at the site of Derbeyshire-based Vinyl Compound Ltd.

He was operating the vehicle during night-time hours and down a sloping roadway when it overturned.

The Health and Safety Executive’s investigation, with initial involvement from Derbyshire Constabulary, found the employee was not adequately trained, He was also not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the FLT overturning. It was also found that the company:

  • did not inform their employees of the speed limit on-site
  • had not put measures in place to control the speed of vehicles
  • did not have adequate lighting and edge protection in place to avoid FLTs overturning.

Tragic accident

Vinyl Compound Ltd of Stephanie Works, High Park, Derbyshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

The firm was fined £450,000 and ordered to pay costs of £71,778.20.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Berian Price said: “This tragic incident could have easily been prevented. The company’s management of fork lift truck driving operations and its failure to provide various measures to ensure the safety of the external yard area coupled with the lack of safe driver measures, such as wearing a seat belt, exposed employees to serious safety risks.

“Sadly, in this case, these failures resulted in the needless loss of Mr Pallier-Singleton’s life.”

Beloved son

Ben’s mother, Kathryn Pallier, said after the sentencing hearing: “Ben was and always will be my beloved son, and much-loved brother to Dan and Sophie.

“Ben was a young man at the start of his life, full of life, fun and the excitement of plans and ideas for the future with his girlfriend, Kensey. He was the shining light of our family and brought everyone together.

“I am heartbroken and angry that Ben could go to work and be killed because his employer, Vinyl Compounds, took so little care of him, failed to train him or make sure the workplace was safe.

“It is utterly shocking that this can happen even now. The directors who made the decisions will be now able to get on with their lives but we are serving a life sentence. Any fine they have paid is nothing, no penalty at all compared to the penalty we face: life-long torment, endless sadness and grief without Ben.”

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