Worker Left Disabled After Forklift Crush Incident

A Staffordshire based wholesaler has been fined £300,000 following a lift truck crush incident, which left a worker disabled.

On 28th September 2016, the employee Debra Thorpe, was returning to the warehouse at Olwett-Jason, part of parent group Hexstone Ltd, based at Stone Business Park when she was struck by a moving lift truck. Ms. Thorpe was a long serving employee of Owlett-Jaton’s as a team leader, with 13 years’ service. Following the incident, Ms. Thorpe was airlifted to hospital where she stayed for a period of 4 weeks. She required 13 operations on her leg, including the installation of a metal plate and skin grafts. She has since received therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder and is now permanently disabled.

Since the incident, Ms. Thorpe has remained on full pay and is hoping to make a return to the business in the future.

Following an investigation into the incident, it was discovered that Hexstone Ltd had failed to properly assess and address the risks associated with personnel being struck by moving vehicles on the premises. Tony Watkin, prosecuting for Stafford Borough Council, said of the case “It is plainly the case that the accident was caused by a failure to properly assess the risks posed of the use of forklift trucks in areas where pedestrians were likely to be and to take proper measures to guard against accidents of precisely the kind that was caused to Ms. Thorpe. Her accident was entirely foreseeable and entirely preventable”

Since the incident, Hexstone Ltd has painted dedicated walkways onto the warehouse floor, installed a new crossing, applied a ‘caution’ tape barrier system and reorganized its shelving in order to provide better visibility to operators and pedestrians.

In court, Hexstone Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Atc etc. 1974. They received a fine of £300,000, with further costs of £7,424 and a victim surcharge of £120.

Christian Du Cann, acting in the defence, commented “There was a system but it was not rigorous enough. The effect on Ms. Thorpe, a well-respected, well established employee, is bitterly regrettable.”

Councillor Frank Finlay, head of the authority’s environment and health sector, added “A woman suffered horrible injuries as a result of failings in safety procedures as this warehouse. One of our top priorities is the wellbeing of people in our borough, so I hope the size of this fine sends a warning to all business that the health and safety of their employees at work is paramount.”

 

Source: Express & Star Online, Firm fined £300k after woman’s leg is crushed by fork lift, 14th November 2017. Read the full article.

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