Warning over forklift trucks and pedestrians

Leeds, UK: Law firm Winston Solicitors LLP has warned staff and employers of the dangers of forklift operations.

Martin Nolan, a partner at Winston Solicitors LLP said: “Employees can receive compensation payments in cases where an employer is proven to be negligent or it is shown that he has breached a statutory duty where proof of negligence is not required in order to take legal action.”

The warning follows a Scottish firm fined £100,000 after one of its employees was killed after being hit by a lift truck. The driver of the vehicle could not see George Hardie, who was walking across the firm’s yard, because the truck had been badly loaded. Containers were stacked on top of each other on the truck so it was hard for the driver to see anything over them.

The Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident and found that the company, Vion Foods, had not conducted a proper risk assessment on the movement of containers around its yard and that the company did not have a safe traffic management system or a procedure for keeping pedestrians out of the way of vehicles.

It is not the first time that the HSE has warned businesses using forklift trucks of the dangers posed by the vehicles. Recent figures suggest that they are responsible for almost 2,000 reportable incidents every year with accidents of this type leading to seven fatalities a year.

It is estimated that one in ten of all physical injuries which occur in the workplace are due to accidents involving forklift trucks and, as well as being hit by a moving vehicle, dangers also include being crushed by a vehicle that overturns, being crushed by a falling load and getting trapped between a truck and another object.

Companies that flout the laws are usually guilty of breaching section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which says that: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees”.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 also calls on employers to make a risk assessment as to the risks that workers are exposed to and also to the risks possible to people other than employees “arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking”.