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Written by
on 19 November 2012

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A forklift driver suffered severe injuries after one of his hands became trapped while he was transporting a load which was not adequately supported on his vehicle.

The incident took place on 26th April 2010 at the premises of The Builders Supply Company Limited, in Edinburgh. The worker in question was a 19 year-old man and he was driving the forklift when the occurrence took place.

Forklift Safety Practices Hearing Finds Edinburgh Firm Guilty of Breaching HSE Regulations

He had lifted a hopper using the vehicle and was in the process of transporting it across an irregular ground in the yard. As he was driving, the legs of the hopper swung inwards towards him. Just like a normal human being, his reflex action was to lift his hands up so as to protect himself. When he did this, the left leg of the hopper crushed one of his hands against the interior roof of the vehicle.

The employee suffered a very serious fracture on the thumb of his left arm and he required immediate surgery to insert external fixations and three screws.  Because of these injuries, he was not able to go back to his job for six weeks and even after he returned he was able to undertake light tasks only.

The incident was investigated by City of Edinburgh Council by officers from the safety and health section of the council. They used technical support and assistance from a specialist from HSE and together, they noted that the method that was employed to lift that hopper was inappropriate because there were no designated lifting points.

The City of Edinburg Council issued The Builders Supply Company Limited with a Prohibition Notice that banned the company from lifting hoppers using forklift trucks.

The Building Supply Company Limited appeared before Edinburgh Sheriff Court on November 8th, 2012 and pleaded guilty to charges of breaching s2 (1) of the HSWA 1974. The company was slapped with a fine of 5000 pounds. No costs were awarded to this case because the hearing of this case took place in Scotland.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, while speaking after the hearing of the case, said that these types of cases illustrate just how important it was for all employers to be completely scrupulous about putting in place all the necessary measures to ensure that their work places are very safe for all their employees.

He added that that incident had resulted in a very serious injury to an employee who was very young. All businesses had a legal obligation to ensure that their workers health, welfare and safety at the work place are guaranteed so far as realistically practicable. He concluded by saying that the Council will investigate thoroughly all those who fail to ensure employees health and safety at the work place.

About the author

David Cant is a Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME’s favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick. You can find him across social media on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

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