When you decide that there needs to be a safe system of work put into place how do you ensure that this safe system is properly communicated and then routinely adhered to? It’s a question that we often ask our clients as it’s one thing deciding that there needs to be written system of working, but getting staff to accept this is sometimes very difficult.
We have worked with businesses that run shift systems, seven days a week and 24 hours per day and anyone who thinks each group will work in exactly the same way must be stark raving bonkers!!
Also when you have new starters how do you cover all of what’s expected on their first day of working; can you say you have a plan that covers the essentials or like many does the induction get delayed to a later time? And if you cover the essentials what exactly does that mean; is covering the fire procedures, where the toilets etc. enough; we would suggest it’s not.
We have seen that one business has found to its cost that accidents can happen at any time; including on a new persons first day of working. Unfortunately this lesson has been learnt the hard way with a person’s life being lost and the business incurring a large fine and not insignificant costs.
Recresco Ltd a recycling company has been fined £180,000 and ordered to pay £38,693 in prosecution costs after a worker was killed on his first day at work when the forklift truck he was driving overturned.
The man was using the forklift at Recresco Ltd’s glass recycling plant in Ellesmere Port when the vehicle overturned, crushing him to death. Liverpool Crown Court heard that he had been hired on a temporary four-day contract and was just a few hours into his first day when the incident happened.
Recresco Ltd was prosecuted by the HSE after an investigation found that forklift truck drivers regularly had to work in an area that was often covered in waste materials. This prevented them from turning the vehicles safely.
The forklift truck became unstable on the uneven surface and overturned and he was not wearing a seatbelt and there was no company policy in place to ensure seatbelts were worn.
HSE’s investigation also found that the forklift trucks in use at the plant were not suitable for operation on uneven surfaces or over loose material such as that found on the site. Alternative vehicles, such as four-wheel-drive, all terrain shovel loaders, could have been used and were already in use elsewhere on the site. Since the incident, the company now uses these vehicles to move all the waste material on the site and it is now company policy for seatbelts to be worn at all times in all vehicles.
Perhaps safe systems of work are sometimes hard to enforce but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be in place; clearly Recresco failed to identify the risks and manage them effectively. We are amazed how many businesses fail to recognise how dangerous forklift trucks can be when simple controls are not enforced. The basics of wearing a seatbelt may well have saved this man’s life; yet the company had no rules in place and therefore is unlikely to have covered it in the induction training.
Also it makes you wonder if he was only there on a four day contract would management have taken the time to properly cover what he should have been told; or is it likely that he wasn’t aware of the potential risks!