Forklift accidents

Worker killed by telehandler. Firm sentenced

telescopic materials handlerSept 4th 2013. An east London firm has been fined £125,000 after being found guilty of safety failings that led to the death of a worker who was crushed by a falling metal mast at its site in Cambridgeshire.

The man aged 57, from Eaton Ford, St Neots, died as a result of his crush injuries following the incident at the company in Wireless Station Park, Kneesworth on 19 September 2011.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which brought the prosecution for safety breaches against the deceased's employer.

During a week-long trial at Peterborough Crown Court the jury was told that the deceased was part of a four man team assembling a tri-mast in the rear yard of the premises.

It consisted of three standard mast sections, in a triangular formation and each section was being lifted and then lowered vertically into a purpose-built jig using a telehandler and a four-leg chain sling.

Two sections had been lowered into the jig and bolted together, but the second section did not sit correctly so the deceased and a colleague attempted to force it into the jig using a sledge hammer and crowbar.

The court heard that their attempts failed, so the driver of the telehandler was instructed to use the machine to push the mast section into the jig, which he did. He then positioned the telehandler ready to move the final section into place, but as he did so the two three metres tall mast sections already in place, each weighing around one tonne, toppled onto the worker.

HSE found that there was inadequate planning and supervision of the work and there had been no separation of vehicles from the assembly process.

This meant that the telehandler, used to lift and lower the sections, inadvertently pushed over the two sections of the tri-mast.

The company of Rifle Street, London, was fined a total of £125,000 and ordered to pay £40,000 costs after being found guilty at an earlier hearing of three offences of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, Regulation 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

More information about working with telehandlers can be found on the HSE website.