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Employer sentenced after worker crushed to death

A North Lanarkshire employer has been fined £24,500 when it admitted its negligence at Airdrie Sheriff Court after a 22-year-old employee was fatally crushed when a fork lift truck he had been driving in a yard toppled over, trapping his head against the ground, sustaining injuries from which he died.

The employee who had only been working for the scaffolding refurbishment company for two weeks prior to the incident, was not wearing a seat belt and performed a sharp turning manoeuvre when the fatal accident occurred. However, this tragedy was a result of the company failing to abide by its Health and Safety obligations as well as established and obvious construction safety guidelines.

The employee should never have been driving the forklift as he had not received the correct training. The Court heard that the company was previously warned by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an HSE inspector spotted a forklift truck being driven by an unqualified worker. At that time the inspector instructed the company to ensure that forklift trucks be only be used by trained operatives. 

However, after the tragic incident a subsequent investigation revealed that the employer did not implement a safe system of working on his site. The employer did properly train workers who could drive the forklift trucks but nevertheless dangerously allowed untrained employees or even required them to drive the forklift trucks despite the previous warning issued. In this case, the use was not even for a work-related purpose, and should never have been allowed.

This sad and needless death could easily have been prevented. Following the case, HSE Acting Head of Operations, Barry Baker said that “every year there are serious and sometimes fatal incidents involving forklift trucks. It was entirely foreseeable that there was a risk of death or serious injury in allowing an inexperienced and untrained driver to operate a forklift truck.”

Conclusion 

The importance of providing instruction, training and supervision to employees using equipment and machinery at work cannot be stressed enough. This tragic case illustrates that sometimes it can mean “life or death” for some employees.

If you are an employer who has a health & safety question relating to your place of business please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation on 0113 350 4030 or hello@scesolicitors.co.uk


Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here. 

Samira Cakali

Samira Cakali is a pragmatic and approachable solicitor advocate with extensive contentious and non-contentious experience in the fields of employment law as well as civil litigation, within a range of commercial businesses from SME’s to multinationals as well as senior executives.

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