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May 26, 2010

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Worker fell from unsuitable work platform

A car manufacturer has been criticised for allowing workers to implement an unsafe method of work when operating forklifts at its factory in Dublin.

On 1 December 2006, Dawid Kwiatowski was standing in a metal basket, which was resting on the forks of a forklift truck. The basket was not designed for use with the truck and was not attached to the forks. There was also no way to operate the forklift from inside the basket.

The forks had been raised to more than four metres above the ground, and Mr Kwiatowski was placing vehicle parts on storage racking. While he was stacking the parts he lost his balance and fell out of the basket, landing on the factory floor. The basket landed on top of him and he died at the scene as a result of serious crush injuries.

His employer, DAF Sales Ltd, appeared at Dublin Criminal Court on 12 May and pleaded guilty to breaching s8 (2)(c)(iii) of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 contrary to s77 (9)(a), for failing to ensure a safe method of work was being implemented, and s19 (1) contrary to s77 (2)(a) of the same Act, for not carrying out a risk assessment. The company was fined 75,000 euros but no costs are awarded in Ireland.

Speaking after the judgement Health and Safety Authority chief executive, Martin O’Halloran, said: “There can be a serious risk of injury or death when working at height if the risk is not appropriately controlled. Where work at height is necessary, the dangers can be minimised by carrying out a risk assessment and using the appropriate control measures and safety equipment. Clearly, in this case, that did not happen – with tragic results.”

SHP contacted DAF Sales but the company was unable to provide a comment.

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13 years ago

Sadly, this kind of unsafe practice is becoming far too prevalent. It’s a sad fact that enthusiasm has the unfortunate effect of overcoming common sense at times.

Even though an approved safety cage that secures to the forks is used at our site, I always insist that the operators use a restraint lanyard to prevent them from being able to climb within the cage or get into a situation where they could fall out. It’s a similar story with cherry pickers and MEWPs, the number of people not using fall arrest or restraint lanyards is increasing.