A freight company has been fined £50,000 after an employee broke his back in a forklift truck accident.
Neil Jennings, 56, was waiting for his trailer to be loaded in the yard of Eagle Freight Terminal Ltd in Great Blakenham, Suffolk, when one of the forklifts doing the loading hit a pothole. The vehicle toppled over and spilled its load on to Mr Jennings.
He suffered multiple fractures to the vertebrae of his upper and middle back and was unable to work for several weeks because of his work injury. Mr Jennings, from Ipswich, can now only undertake light duties and can no longer carry out everyday tasks without pain and discomfort.
Pothole accident risk
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the freight yard road surface was littered with potholes and had been the subject of complaints by employees over a significant period. There was little management of traffic movements and no instructions regarding segregation of workplace transport and pedestrians.
Ipswich Magistrates’ Court was told that two improvement notices were served by the HSE following the incident in January last year requiring them to remedy the condition of the yard’s surface and to introduce systems of control which would allow vehicles and pedestrians to circulate safely at the site.
But despite two extensions of time to allow the work to be completed, an inspection carried out in September 2012 found that no work had been completed and neither of the notices had been complied with.
History of failings
The court also heard that Eagle Freight Terminal had been subject to similar enforcement action by the HSE as far back as 2002/3 about the lack of control of workplace transport.
As well as receiving a fine, the company was also ordered to pay costs of more than £4,500 plus a £120 victim surcharge after pleading guilty to breaching a number of safety regulations.