The Merseyside shipbuilding firm has been fined £120,000 over the death of a welder who became trapped while driving a forklift truck. The worker suffered life-threatening injuries while using the truck to transport heavy welding equipment at Cammell Laird in Birkenhead; he died in hospital four days later.
Cammell Laird Ship repairers & Shipbuilders Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found he had been able to drive the forklift despite not having any training.
In court it was identified that keys were routinely left in the ignition of forklifts, and that the worker had driven a truck on several occasions without being challenged about his lack of training. No procedures were in place to inform employees who was and who was not authorised to drive the trucks.
The frustrating part about this is how many companies we see that also fail in this area; only recently at a company in the North West we challenged the lack of properly trained fork lift truck drivers. The company had felt that one employee demonstrating how to use the fork lift truck to another was sufficient training. Clearly this case demonstrates how dangerous fork lift truck operations can be and that properly planned training is critical to maintaining a safe workplace.
Cammell Laird admitted breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of its employees. The company, which has around 500 employees, was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £12,294 in prosecution costs.
The HSE inspector on the case commented that the worker may well have thought he was doing his employer a favour by moving the welding equipment as quickly as possible, but instead he has ended up losing his life. This is something we blogged about last month http://www.consultmesh.co.uk/blog/2012/04/people-dont-set-out-to-get-hurt-at-work/
The dangers of fork lift trucks are well known in the manufacturing industry and Cammell Laird has since introduced new procedures to ensure keys are safely locked away, and that a list is available of trained drivers. These simple procedures could have prevented this tragic incident if the company had fully risk assessed its fork lift truck operations.