A man was killed when a stack of pallets fell onto him whilst working in his employers yard. Each pallet weighed 36kg and he died after sustaining multiple injuries.
The man and a colleague had been working in the yard to clear up another stack of pallets that had toppled over during wet and windy conditions. Whilst doing this, another stack fell onto him.
The HSE investigation found that the business had poor controls over the way pallets were stored in the yard and that stacks were often built too high to be considered safe.
This reminds me of another business I was asked to visit a couple of years ago, where the business was stacking pallets in their warehouse. Again, one of the pallet stacks had collapsed and the workers were instructed to sort out the mess. Whilst doing so another stack then collapsed onto two workers and one sustained a broken leg and the other cuts and bruises. After the HSE had investigated they determined the business did not have suitable risk assessments in place and instructed the business to have them updated. However, the bigger picture for me was the lack of recognition from management that if one stack could collapse then why was it not appreciated that the same thing could happen again? Clearly, any clear up should first consider are we likely to put workers at risk and if so what steps do we need to take to ensure safety is maintained.
The HSE has issued the warning to other businesses to look at where they stack pallets and give proper consideration to the safety implications. It’s unfortunate that too often the simplest things we can control, such as housekeeping, are overlooked, and yet these can seriously impact on a businesses health & safety performance.
In this case a worker died and the business ended up in court where it (Ralph Coleman International) was fined £75k and ordered to pay costs of £25,316. A tragedy and a very expensive mistake for any business.
So why not take a look around your business and see if you can find any simple to solve housekeeping issues that could otherwise end up with someone being hurt. As a word of warning, simple slips, trips and falls account for around a third of major injuries reported under RIDDOR and these occur in all types of workplaces.