Forklift accidents

Worker fractures skull falling from forklift

2 May 2012. A North Devon farming business has been prosecuted for safety failings after a worker fractured his skull falling from the prong of a forklift truck at an animal feed mill.

The injured man, 64, from Pyworthy, near Holsworthy, was attempting to crush recycled material when the fall occurred at Cross Mill, Holsworthy Beacon, on 3 August last year. His employer appeared before Barnstaple Magistrates in a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive.

The court heard that some workers had developed their own system of working, which involved being lifted by forklifts and climbing into large bags of recycled material that were suspended in the air. They then trampled down material in the bags to make more room before coming down again on the forklifts.

The company did not provide any fixed alternative methods for the workmen to reach the bags in a safe and controlled manner. The injured worker fell about one and a half metres from the forklift to the concrete below.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for allowing dangerous working practices. The company was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,226.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector, Simon Jones, said:

"The company did not give enough thought to how employees were going to work on the bags that were suspended in the air. They were allowed to use a very unsafe method because there was no fixed alternative available to them. As a result the injured man could easily have paid with his life.

"Working at height must be properly planned and supervised, and employers must ensure their staff have a safe system in place to prevent further incidents of this kind.".