Forklift accident leads to £12.5k fine

A plastics recycling firm has been fined £12,500 after a worker was stuck by a reversing forklift truck at its site in Lincolnshire and suffered severe back and tissue injuries.

In a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution, Lincoln Magistrates’ Court was told how Robin Eddom, a 63-year-old engineer from Scunthorpe, was working at the ECO Plastics processing plant in Hemswell, when the incident happened in March 2012.

Eddom was walking through the Goods Out warehouse when he was hit by the reversing vehicle.

He was taken to hospital by air ambulance with internal bleeding, two damaged vertebrae in his lower spine and extensive tissue damage to his back, shoulders, neck, thighs and knees.

The court heard that ECO Plastics had designated a separate walkway for pedestrians to use within the waste processing building.

However, HSE found the firm had allowed the walkway in the Goods Out warehouse to be taped off and blocked with building materials and equipment while construction work was being carried out. As a result, Eddom and other employees had to share a route used by loaded forklift vehicles which were regularly manoeuvring and reversing.

ECO Plastics took no steps to provide or redirect their employees to an alternative, safe pedestrian route, inside or outside the warehouse.

The firm, based on the Hemswell Business Park, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was also ordered to pay costs of £5,261.

Section 2(1) of the Act states 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 its employees.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Karin Abbott said: “This could so easily have been a fatal incident. Mr Eddom has been left with devastating physical and psychological injuries, which have forced an earlier retirement from work and will leave him in discomfort for the rest of his life.

“The incident was entirely preventable. Mr Eddom should have been able to use the designated walkway provided within the building, but this was not possible as this walkway was completely blocked by stored building materials and equipment.

“The dangers associated with vehicle movements around pedestrians are well-known in the industry,” Abbott added. “However, ECO Plastics failed to recognise the dangers the blocked walkway had created or provide adequate control measures to ensure the warehouse could be safely accessed by pedestrians while construction work was under way.”