Woodworking Company Prosecuted after Worker Hit by Fork Lift Truck

A firm which manufactures wooden pallets has been prosecuted after a worker was seriously injured by a fork lift truck being operated in a workshop. The employee was carrying a pallet when the fork lift truck struck him, causing serious fractures to his leg and ankle and leaving him unable to work for a few months. Mid Cheshire Pallets Ltd was fined £6,500 and ordered to pay costs of just over £7,362.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the accident, and inspectors established that whilst the company had carried out a risk assessment, the process had not highlighted the need for areas of segregation to be marked out. The company had also failed to adequately segregate workers operating on foot and any fork lift trucks in the area.

10 tips to help prevent accidents involving fork lift truck

  1. Do a risk assessment to determine the hazards involved in your use of fork lift trucks. Consider all areas they are used in and all activities they take part in, such as loading, travelling and stacking. Think about how collisions could occur, and how workers could be crushed, knocked over or run over during their operation.
  2. Segregate pedestrians and fork lifts who operate in the same areas. Use barriers and floor markings, and provide different routes for both those on foot and fork lifts.
  3. Where feasible, remove any blind corners in areas where fork lifts are used.
  4. Remove pot holes in yards and other large holes or cracks to prevent fork lifts toppling over. Ensure they operate on relatively flat surfaces, and try to avoid slopes and ramps. 
  5. Make sure your fork lifts are fitted with the correct lifting accessories. Never allow anyone to stand on the forks. Make sure the vehicles carry suitable loads, and that drivers can see where they are going. 
  6. Specify a maximum speed limit for drivers to stick to, and ensure all drivers are aware of this.
  7. Only use trained drivers to operate your fork lifts. Provide refresher training on a regular basis, and in the event of an accident or near miss.
  8. Maintain your fork lifts correctly, and inspect them periodically. Remove the keys from vehicles not in operation, to prevent misuse.
  9. Investigate any accidents or near misses involving fork lifts, to identify why they happened and to prevent a reoccurrence.
  10. Supervise your fork lift activities – check drivers are observing safe practices and sticking to the maximum speed limit.

The above accident could easily have been prevented if simple controls such as keeping fork lift trucks and pedestrians separate had been implemented. Take the time today to check that your fork lift operations are carried out in a safe manner.