Runcorn firm fined £140,000 after FLT driver death: what lessons can we learn?

A food manufacturer has been fined £140,000 last month after a fork lift truck driver was killed at a factory in Runcorn.

On 18 April 2011, Michael Moran was using his fork lift truck on a public road to load a lorry trailer outside a factory when another lorry on the road reversed into the side of his vehicle.

The fork lift overturned and killed Mr Moran instantly.

AAK UK Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found that the company had not put any safety measures in place to supervise fork lift truck drivers who regularly used a public road to load and unload lorries.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the 49-year-old from Warrington had been loading pallets containing tubs of mayonnaise onto the trailer. He had finished loading one side and had moved into the road to reach the other side of the trailer.

As he moved the fork lift truck into position, a lorry that had been parked up alongside the trailer slowly started to reverse. Mr Moran shouted out and the HGV driver applied his brakes but it was too late to make a difference and the lorry hit the fork lift truck.

The company had not carried out an adequate assessment of the risks to its employees or visiting drivers using the ‘Goods Out’ area. Drivers were also not given any information, instruction or training on how to load the lorry trailers safely, and there was poor supervision.

AAK UK Ltd, of King George Dock in Hull, was fined £140,000 and ordered to pay an additional £22,657 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Lessons to be learned

Peter Harvey, Chief Executive of the Fork Lift Truck Association, said: “When a fork lift truck overturns, the driver’s overhead guard can either be your protective roll cage or a crushing mousetrap.

“The single most effective thing you can do to protect drivers from injuries caused by overturning fork lifts is to make sure that ALL operators on your site ALWAYS use their seat belts. It’s simple, basic advice; but it works.

“Improving fork lift safety nationwide is the FLTA’s primary concern, and if you’re reading this and your firm operates trucks on public roads, there is a plethora of advice and information available on the FLTA website that explains the steps you can take to help prevent this type of accident at your place of work.

“Please take a few minutes to read the free fact sheets, including Fact Sheet 08, which provides essential basic advice for the use of fork lifts on a public road.

“Members can additionally reference Technical Bulletins 01 and 03 for precise legal requirements on the use of seat belts and the precautions that should be taken when operating a fork lift truck on a public highway.

“To combat accidents like this, during this year’s Safety Conference on 24th September we will hear from a variety of companies from different sectors who have developed successful, proven safety campaigns that have dramatically improved safety at their sites.

“Their first-hand accounts will provide us with invaluable tips and real world examples of techniques, campaigns and programmes that every conference attendee can take home and implement on their site.

“Moreover, the Association will be creating a raft of resources to support this endeavour which will be published on the FLTA website as part of an ongoing Safety Week campaign beginning in September.”

The defining theme for the FLTA’s annual Safety Conference for 2014 will be:

Is there a killer in your warehouse?
Five real-world ways to transform fork truck safety

Throughout the conference, the Association will stress the importance of learning from peers and colleagues and working in partnership to create a practical road map that will help safeguard the health and lives of all staff.

The Conference is sponsored by Briggs Equipment and will take place at Warwick University on 24th September as part of National Fork Lift Safety Week (22-28th September). It is open to everyone, though discounted entry is available to members of the FLTA and its Safe User Group. To find out more, or book your place, please visit fork-truck.org.uk, call 01635 277577 or email peter.harvey@fork-truck.org.uk today.