An employee of ZF Lemforder UK Limited of Bickenhill, West Midlands, has been prosecuted and fined for actions, that HSE had alleged, placed him in breach of his duty as an individual under S.7¹ of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
The prosecution followed an incident on 11th January 2005, when the man lifted a colleague up approximately 3-4 metres in a metal stillage balanced on the forks of his forklift truck, in order to repair a loading bay curtain, when the correct lifting equipment was available from the company. The outcome was a fall in which a colleague sustained major injuries.
It transpired that the convicted man had received risk assessment training, forklift truck driver training and training which allows him to teach forklift truck driver training to others. These training courses give examples of bad practice, including lifting people up in metal stillages or pallets balanced on the forks of forklift trucks to gain access to height.
HSE wishes to caution companies to take adequate precautions to prevent injuries when falling from height at work, particularly in the use of forklift trucks, which should only be used to lift goods in their metal stillages as opposed to people.
The man pleaded guilty at Solihull Magistrates Court and was fined £450, with costs of £250.
"Using a forklift truck as a way of elevating people is a highly dangerous practice and creates an imminent risk to safety. Both employers and employees have a duty to ensure that appropriate safety measures are taken when carrying out work that involves working at height in order to prevent injuries such as these.
HSE's current programme of Revitalising Health and Safety has highlighted falls from height as the most common cause of work-related deaths. Every year, around 80 people are killed and more than 5,500 seriously injured as a result of falling from height" - Prosecuting HSE Inspector.
¹ The prosecution under the Act was because he was deemed to have failed to discharge the duty imposed on him by S.7 in that he failed to take reasonable care of the health and safety of other persons, including his colleague, who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work.