In a separate incident another employee at the factory fractured his leg after he was struck by another reversing forklift, magistrates were told.
Luton Magistrates’ Court heard the first accident at work happened at the MyFresh Prepared Produce factory in Chicksands, Bedfordshire, in January 2014, and the second three months later.
The firm, of Hessle in East Yorkshire, was fined £38,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,320 and a £120 victim surcharge after admitting two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Magistrates heard 43-year-old Chris Bottesch, a warehouse team leader, was talking to a colleague in the goods yard when he was struck by a reversing vehicle. He suffered multiple fractures to his hip, leg and foot.
Nerve damage has left him with drop foot, magistrates were told. Mr Bottesch has now returned to work but in an administrative capacity as he cannot cope with his previous post’s physical demands.
The court heard a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found restrictions on pedestrian and vehicle activity in the busy goods yard were minimal. Supervision was inadequate and there were no specified routes for vehicles and pedestrians.
The HSE served MyFresh with an Improvement Notice requiring it to implement changes to improve safety by April 29, 2014.
But six days before that, magistrates heard, a 44-year-old quality control technician was left with a fractured leg after being hit by a reversing forklift as he inspected vegetables.
Accidents ‘were preventable’
Following the case HSE inspector Emma Page said both accidents were “entirely preventable”.
She said previous near misses should have resulted in the firm improving the way it managed the movement of pedestrians and forklifts. While the risks were clear, not enough had been done to control them.
The inspector added that although changes were being implemented when the second accident happened, the firm failed to identify the fact that quality control workers were at risk.
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: March 20, 2015
Author: Jonathan Brown