DIY giant B&Q has been fined £65,000 after a member of staff suffered crush injuries after she became stuck between a wall and the forklift truck she was operating at the company’s warehouse at the Yeading store in Glencoe Road in November 2013. The prosecution is one of many against the company for failures surrounding forklift safety, including the fatality of a customer crushed by a forklift in 2001.
An investigation into the latest incident, carried out by Hillingdon Council’s food health and safety team, discovered that B&Q had not provided a safe system of work for parking the Mini Bendi truck in the warehouse as the operator of the truck had no option but to reverse park the forklift. Arrangements within the warehouse should not have permitted this to have happened and as a direct result the forklift operator became trapped.
B&Q was sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on 16 January after admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and two breaches of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. The company was fined £65,000 and was ordered to pay £18,500 costs to the council.
Richard Heller, prosecuting, told the court that the company had failed to apply its mind to the risk of reverse parking the ‘Bendi’ in a confined space and had failed to heed warnings about this. In passing sentence, the Crown Court judge accepted that the “protection of the vehicle was given precedence over the safety of the employees”.
Councillor Jonathan Bianco, Cabinet Member for Finance, Property and Business Services, said: “This was a very serious incident but thanks to the extensive investigation carried out by our officers this will not be repeated. The warehouse has now been redesigned so the equipment can be used safely.”
B&Q have faced prosecution in the past for incidents involving forklifts. In May 2010 a worker suffered a broken arm and leg when he was hit by more than half a ton of topsoil which was knocked off shelving at the Alphington Road store. The following month a delivery driver suffered a serious injury to his heel when he was hit by a reversing fork-lift truck at the Sowton store. The company was fined £60,000 with over £20,000 in costs.
In 2001, customer Pamela Jean Hinchliffe, 69, from Poole in Dorset, died at the firm’s Fleetsbridge store after she was crushed by a forklift. The company was fined £550,000 and ordered to pay £250,000 costs.
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