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March 12, 2010

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Unsecured forklift load crushed worker

A lorry-trailer building company failed to put in place suitable control measures to protect workers using forklift trucks to transport heavy loads.

On 13 March 2008, a worker at S Cartwright and Sons Ltd’s factory in Broadheath, Lancashire was seriously injured after a stack of metal beams fell off the forks of a forklift truck and landed on him.

Manchester Crown Court heard that David Jones was helping to move a stack of 6.7 metre-long metal strips, which are used to make lorry-trailers. The sheets were being unloaded on to a trailer before being used to form the body of the unit, in which Mr Jones was sitting.

The sheets, which weighed 2.2 tonnes, had not been secured to the forklift. As the vehicle approached Mr Jones, the load became unbalanced and slid off the forks, landing on top of him. He suffered multiple fractures to his back and shoulder, a punctured lung and bruising to his heart. He has been unable to return to work owing to his injuries.

The following day, the HSE issued a Prohibition Notice, which instructed the firm to put measures in place to secure loads when using forklifts. HSE inspector Richard Clarke said: “The company did not do enough to protect the safety of its employees. Mr Jones is still in constant pain and the incident could have killed him.

“The company regularly requires its employees to unload long stacks of metal strips, which are used to build the trailers for lorries. But, at the time of the incident, it did not provide suitable training, or written guidance for its staff to handle long loads.”

S Cartwright and Sons appeared in court on 5 March and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £16,315 towards costs.

The firm mitigated that it has subsequently reviewed its risk assessment for moving heavy loads, and put a new system of work in place in accordance with the terms of the Prohibition Notice. It has also provided staff with training and written guidance for lifting long loads.

Inspector Clarke concluded: “Manufacturing companies can be dangerous places to work if the risks are not properly managed. It’s vital that good health and safety measures are put in place to prevent workers from being injured.”

The company has two previous safety convictions, in June 2006 it was fined £7000 for breaching reg. 8 of MHSWR 1999 following the death of an apprentice who fell through a fragile roof. Five months later, it was fined £50,000 for breaching s3(1) of the HSWA after an agency worker died falling from the roof of an industrial unit.

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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