News & Views

Forklift fatality prosecution

BY Thomas Elliott
Health & Safety
BG Orange

Vion Food Scotland Ltd have been fined £100,000 following an accident where an employee was killed when he was hit by a forklift truck.  

The accident occurred when George Hardie, 60, was walking across the yard of the plant and a forklift truck struck him.  The forklift truck drivers vision was compromised as the height of the load meant he could not see clearly over it. 

The forklift truck was transporting two large containers across the yard which were stacked on top of each other on the front of the forklift.  This resulted in the driver being unable to see clearly.  As the driver approached the washer where the containers were to be cleaned, he felt a bump and got out of the vehicle to investigate.  Once out of the vehicle he saw Mr Hardie on his back, trapped under the forks.  Paramedics arrived and fought to save his life, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. 

HSE inspector Peter Dodd highlighted that the company had failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for the transportation of containers and in relation to workplace transport.  He also commented on the lack of pedestrian and vehicle segregation.  Inspector Dodd said: “If Vion Food Scotland Ltd had taken simple steps to keep their employees safe, Mr Hardie would still be alive today.  Forklifts were being moved around the yard with loads that meant the drivers could not clearly see where they were going. At the same time, employees were walking through the same yard, with no separation between them and the traffic, and no more protection than a high-visibility jacket.” 

Vion Food Scotland Ltd appeared at Livingston Sheriff Court and pleaded guilty to a breach of S2(1) of the Health & Safety At Work Act 1974. No costs are awarded in Scotland.

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