A construction firm has been ordered to pay a total of £28,500 after a forklift truck toppled over in the process of moving and emptying a skip. The operator was thankfully uninjured in the incident at Midland Steel Reinforcement Supplies (GB) Limited’s base, Fishers Way, Belvedere, on 13 September 2011, but the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated. The Bexley company was prosecuted on Wednesday for safety failings.
Operator ‘got lucky’
Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told the employee was instructed to empty bins, which he thought included small skips full of offcuts of reinforced steel bars (rebars). The man used a forklift to pick up and shift one of the skips to the edge of a larger waste container. He used retracted forks to tilt the skip and get rid of its contents.
The employee jumped into the container to fasten a sling from the empty skip to the forks in order to get it out of there. When he tried to do so, the forklift fell over but the lifting column luckily rested against the container, which allowed the operator to escape.
The HSE said this was an approach which was unsuitable and had obvious dangers, particularly as the worker was not trained to use the forklift and was unsupervised. They also discovered he was not wearing a seatbelt. The court heard a safer method to dispose of the waste steel rebars, tipper skips, was available at the time.
The company admitted to two separate breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. It was fined £17,500 with £11,000 payable in costs.
Warning for companies
HSE inspector Maria Strangward said: “The forklift truck should have never have been used to lift and manoeuvre the skip in this way. It was a system and method of work that posed clear risk and the worker is extremely fortunate to avoid being seriously injured — possibly even killed — had the forklift struck and crushed him as it overturned.
“The onus is on employers like Midland Steel Reinforcement Supplies to ensure operations are properly planned, managed and supervised, and that adequate training, instruction and equipment is provided to at all times to protect workers.”
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Source: News Shopper
Date Published: October 11, 2013
Author: David Brown