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Cheese firm fined as worker injured after forklift truck fall

By Joe Whitworth+

27-Jan-2014

HSE fines cheese firm after worker injured from forklift accident
HSE fines cheese firm after worker injured from forklift accident

A UK cheese manufacturer has been fined for safety failings after a worker suffered leg and ankle injuries when he fell from the forks of a forklift truck.

Joseph Heler was prosecuted last week (23 January) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The firm was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £709.15 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc 1974.

The accident occurred at its plant in Hatherton, near Nantwich, on 4 July 2012.

Change of practice

Joseph Heler has since provided steps to reach the back of the vehicles and changed the way it prepares deliveries.

Chester Magistrates’ Court heard that the injured 53 year old worker, who asked not to be named, had been helping to load cheese onto a wagon so it could be delivered to a customer.

He was being lifted up to the wagon, with one foot on each prong on the forklift, when the forks hit the back of the vehicle and jolted.

He fell around a metre to the ground, suffering cuts to his left leg and multiple fractures to his ankle.

A HSE investigation found it had become common for people to be lifted on forklift prongs.

Despite this being illegal, the company had failed to identify it as an issue.

The Court was told that no risk assessment had been carried out for the work and no other method for accessing the wagons was available.

Illegal practice

Jane Carroll, HSE inspector, said the injuries suffered could have been life-threatening had he struck his head when he fell.

“His employer regularly allowed workers to stand on the forks on forklift trucks, despite this being illegal and posing a clear risk,” she said.

“Joseph Heler failed to give its employees any guidance on how they should access and load the wagon, and failed to put systems in place to make sure the risk of injury was minimised.

“The changes the company has made following the incident show it would have been possible for the work to be carried out safely.”

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