FedEx fined after Worker Injured

HMRC

Parcel carrier FedEx UK has been fined more than half a million pounds after one of its employees was seriously injured by a reversing forklift truck.

Cannock Magistrates’ Court heard that in the early morning of 2 November 2017, an employee was walking across the depot at Burntwood Business Park, near Cannock, Staffordshire when he was struck by the vehicle.

The worker was trapped on the ground by the forklift truck and had to be freed by colleagues using a pallet truck.

He suffered serious fractures to his arm and soft tissue injuries to his legs. He was off work for several months.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there was inadequate segregation of forklift trucks and pedestrians within the workplace.

It found that although a risk assessment had been carried out, it had not identified the importance of achieving robust segregation in an area where frequent forklift truck movements took place.

FedEx UK pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £533,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,033.39.

HSE inspector Wendy Campbell said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to provide safe methods of working and a safe working environment.

“Collisions between vehicles and pedestrians can be avoided if the workplace layout is properly planned, effectively segregated and suitable systems of work are introduced.

“If physical barriers and a suitable system of work had been in place the injuries sustained by this employee could have been prevented.”

Appeal Allowed Following TC’s “Flawed” Reasoning

A tribunal has allowed an appeal by an Inverness company whose operator licence was revoked after a traffic commissioner found she could not trust its shareholder.

MacDonald Groundworks was disqualified after the Scotland TC Joan Aitken said it had lost her trust because the person who held 100% of the shares was a disqualified director who also ‘controlled’ the company and that members of the family had been used to obtain the O-licence.

Gary MacDonald was disqualified in 2014, along with fellow director Colin Thomson, after they admitted that they had misapplied funds of their company Highland Quality Construction (HQC), which eventually failed with losses in excess of £9m.

Shortly before both men resigned from HQC, MacDonald’s son Stephen incorporated new business MacDonald Groundworks and he also held all the shares. Later, Gary’s wife Michelle became director of this firm for a year before resigning, along with Stephen, and both were replaced with Lee Thomson.

In 2016, all the shares were transferred to Gary, but the office of the traffic commissioner was not informed.

At a PI in December 2018, TC Aitken said that, although there was no law preventing a disqualified director from being a 100% shareholder, to her it appeared that Gary controlled the operation, his family had failed to inform her office of Gary’s disqualification and share transfer and had also not mentioned the fact that another of Gary’s businesses had its licence suspended in 2011.

She revoked the licence and disqualified the operator until 2022.

However, MacDonald Grounds appealed, on the grounds that the TC had erred in law by taking into account irrelevant matters, had materially misdirected herself and made “perverse or irrational findings”.

In her written decision, judge Marion Caldwell agreed that the TC had made insufficient findings in fact to conclude MacDonald had used his family to obtain a licence on his behalf and had not explained on what basis she had made that decision.

The judge said there was a condition attached to the licence that any changes in the ownership of the business were notified to the OTC, but that this failure to do so was not sufficiently grave as to warrant revocation.

The TC had also failed to have proper regard to the distinction between a company and its shareholders and her reasoning that the operator could not be trusted because she couldn’t trust Gary MacDonald was “flawed”.