A warehouse worker could have been killed when a 400kg bale struck him as it toppled from a forklift truck.
The 26-year-old man sustained serious personal injury when the driver of the forklift lifted up two bales from a stack in the warehouse by clamping hold of the bottom bale, with the other one resting on top.
As he moved the bales, the top one toppled from the forklift and struck the worker, who was sweeping up bits of plastic. He was thrown to the floor as it hit his hands and head, and suffered a fracture to his spine which required a back brace while it healed.
Preston Plastics Ltd was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £4,533 in prosecution costs following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Preston Magistrates Court was told HSE guidance advises against using forklift trucks to lift two heavy items, with one resting on top of the other, following several deaths caused by toppling loads.
However, the company had failed to properly plan the work in advance to avoid this danger.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Rohan Lye said: “The employee at Preston Plastics was badly injured when he was struck by the 400kg bale, but his injuries could easily have been fatal.
“The firm had a legal duty to make sure the work was properly planned, supervised and carried out safely but it failed to do any of this. What’s worse is that the forklift truck was regularly used to lift two bales at once, making it almost inevitable that someone would be injured.
“The company has since changed its working practices so that the forklift truck is now only used to lift one bale at a time. If that procedure had been in place at the time of the incident, then the worker’s injuries could have been avoided.”
If you have suffered an injury at work call PM Law solicitors in Sheffield on 0114 2965444.