Forklift accidents

Runcorn boat manufacturer in court after employee crushed

30 Sept 2013. A Runcorn-based boat manufacturer has been fined after an employee's head was crushed against the top of a lorry container.

The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive following the incident at its factory on the Whitehouse Industrial Estate, which left the worker with a torn ear, three chipped teeth, nerve pain and several stitches.

Chester Crown Court heard that the 49-year-old man from Northwich, who has asked not to be named, had been lying on top of a stack of kayaks to pull the last ones into a container on 2 March 2011.

As he tried to climb from the container into a cage to be lifted down to the ground by a forklift truck, the forks were raised and he was crushed against the top of the container.

The court was told the company had used this method of loading kayaks for several years, despite employees requesting a ramp to be built to make it easier to load the boats into containers.

An HSE investigation found the company had used an unsafe system to load the kayaks and had failed to carry out a risk assessment or provide employees with suitable training. The work was also not properly planned and there was poor communication between the forklift driver and the man in the container.

The company of Aston Lane South in Runcorn, was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £6,562 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Adam McMahon said:

"The company should never have used a cage to lift workers down from containers, but it allowed this practice to happen over several years. The employee could easily have been killed when he was crushed against the top of the container.

Employees had raised concerns about this method and suggested using a ramp instead, but it was only after this incident that the company took any action to improve safety.

If a ramp had been available at the time of the incident then the employee's injuries could have been avoided. This case shows how important it is that companies listen to their workers and implement safe systems of work."