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August 17, 2008

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Tyre manufacturer in dock over unsafe forklift practices

A worker inspecting commercial vehicle tyres was hit by an unsecured stack of steel pallets that fell off a forklift truck at the Wolverhampton premises of tyre giant, Goodyear Dunlop.

The city’s magistrates heard that on 15 June 2007, the casing (large tyre) operator had been examining bus tyres to determine whether they were suitable for re-treading, or needed to be scrapped.

The tyres were stacked vertically in large, heavy, steel stillages — a type of pallet with posts in the four corners to hold the tyres in place. HSE Principal Inspector Brian Martin told SHP that rather than move stillages around the yard one at a time, which would have been much safer, they were moved in stacks. “In this case, the stillages were stacked four-high, metal-to-metal, without being secured to the forklift truck, or to each other. In addition, it was wet on the day of the incident, and the forklift skidded, causing the whole load to slip to one side and topple down on to the worker.”

The route taken by the forklift was very close to where the tyres were being examined, resulting in injury to the man, who suffered a fractured rib in two places.

“There could have been a fatality with the metal stillages — which weighed around 85kg each — falling down,” the inspector said. “The company had not conducted a risk assessment on the process, nor tried to segregate moving vehicles from the inspectors, nor had it risk-assessed giving instructions on the safe height for the stillages to be stacked.”

A Prohibition Notice on carrying more than one stillage at a time was served on Goodyear Dunlop by the HSE following the incident, together with an Improvement Notice ordering it to undertake proper risk assessments for the activities of the unit where the incident took place.

The company said in mitigation it was a caring firm that had a good health and safety record. It had conducted risk assessments of many areas, but had overlooked this particular operation. It had taken remedial steps since the incident.

Goodyear Dunlop Tyres was fined £13,500 on 5 August and told to pay the HSE’s full costs of £2888 after pleading guilty to breaching s2(1) of HSWA 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of its employees. It was also ordered to pay compensation of £4000 to the injured worker.

Amarjit Kalay, the HSE inspector who investigated and prosecuted the case in court, commented: “Operators of lift trucks must ensure that they operate them in accordance with training, and employers must ensure that they are used safely.”

Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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