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Failure To Undertake Safety Audit Leads To Fatal Forklift Accident.

17th December 2013
Accidents involving forklifts are never out of the headlines for long. Among the many incidents, which give rise to a variety of accident claims for injury compensation, can be found a disregard for safe working practices, loose or non-working parts, lack of sufficient space to manoeuvre, long working hours, etc.

However, in numerous cases, it is a lack of risk assessment or a planned operation prior to carrying out a specific task that is revealed to be an underlying cause. A recent case, which saw a Manchester manufacturing firm prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 in “failing to ensure the safety of its employees”, is a clear illustration.

When a number of large machines weighing around a half-a-tonne were required to be relocated to another part of the factory, a forklift truck was used without a safety audit carried out in advance. Failure to use any form of safety strapping saw one of the machines slip off the forklift and strike a 25 year old employee walking alongside the forklift as it moved, and who tragically died in the workshop.

The HSE investigation later found there was also a failure to inform its own trained engineer responsible for supervising lifting operations that it was planning to move the machines at the plant. While the forklift operator who moved the machines had attended a one-day driver training course, he was not trained and competent to lift any complicated loads not supported on pallets.

Between 2009 and 2010, a total of 24 fatal accidents took place in the manufacturing industry and nearly 4,000 workers also suffered a major injury.

According to the HSE, forklift accidents rose by 4 per cent between 2010-2011, which could return to levels when there around 160 incidents reported per week and 400 serious personal injuries per year involving forklifts.

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, states that employers have a duty to their employees to provide a safe-working environment in a ‘reasonably practicable’ manner, and ensure that the workers handle and transport objects in a safe way and arrange necessary staff training.

In addition, the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 stipulate that all company employees who lift goods should be properly trained to prevent accidents and the employer is obliged to properly check all equipment and machinery for faulty operation.