Two companies have been found guilty of breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 following an incident during loading which caused multiple injuries to a lorry driver. The incident, which involved wheels for railway locomotives being loaded onto a lorry, happened when the lifting beam of a forklift truck being used to load the wheels became detached from the forklift truck during lifting and struck the lorry driver. The lorry driver suffered multiple broken bones, was off work for nine months and is no longer able to work as a lorry driver.
The investigation found that the company that manufactured the wheels was using an unsafe system of work and inappropriate equipment to carry out the loading operation. It was also found that the company that supplied the lifting beam had not provided appropriate information and instruction to the wheel manufacturer about the intended and safe operation of the beam in order to prevent misuse.
Both companies were charged with breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by failing to protect persons not in their employment. The company that carried out the loading of its wheels pleaded guilty, was fined £67,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,500. The company that manufactured the lifting beam was found guilty, fined £25,000 and order to pay costs of £60,000.
Speaking after the rulings, a HSE inspector commented: “This incident was entirely preventable. [The lifting beam manufacturer] failed to give the other company adequate instructions on how the equipment that they manufactured should be used and failed to assess the foreseeable risks posed by the use of the equipment. [The wheel manufacturer] failed to utilise a safe system of work, something which they could easily have done”.