Firm fined after forklift incident

The firm involved deeply regrets the injury caused by the incident
The firm involved deeply regrets the injury caused by the incident

A specialist supplier to the industry has been fined £600,000 after an employee’s leg was crushed by a forklift truck.

The incident happened in May 2018 at the AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings site in Birmingham. 

The worker who was injured had been walking across a pedestrian crossing at the site when a forklift, being driven by another AkzoNobel worker, collided with him crushing his leg and ankle. 

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) report into the incident stated: “The driver did not slow down while approaching the pedestrian crossing and his vision was restricted as the forklift truck was carrying multiple intermediate bulk containers.”

The injured worker required surgery and skin grafts following the incident.

The HSE investigation found AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings had failed to provide an adequate risk assessment nor a safe system of work. “There was also a lack of appropriate supervision. This led to the adoption and development of an unsafe custom and practice on site.”

At Birmingham Magistrates’ Court last week, the company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. 

AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings was fined £600,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,188.60.

HSE inspector Marie Wheeler commented: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by the employer adequately assessing the risks and ensuring a suitable workplace transport system was implemented with correct management and supervision in place.”

AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings issued a statement regarding the incident, and a spokesperson said: “AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings last week entered a guilty plea in relation to a workplace incident, which occurred at our Birmingham site, on May 8, 2018. 

“Our first thoughts are with our former colleague affected and we deeply regret the injury caused by this incident. Our former colleague was unable to return to work following the incident, but we remained in regular contact and paid him his full salary until he left the business. 

“The health and safety of our people is our number one priority and we understand the severity of this matter and take it very seriously. 

“We accept the court's findings and the fine imposed and have cooperated fully with the HSE. Our actions since the incident demonstrate our commitment to ensuring the safety of our employees, and we will continue to work tirelessly to prevent similar incidents happening in the future.”

The firm’s products include cans used for food and beverage, and speciality inks and coatings for metal decorating. 

According to the HSE, lift trucks are particularly dangerous in the workplace and are involved in about a quarter of all workplace transport accidents. An approved code of practice and guidance for safe operation can be downloaded from the HSE site.