Palletways (UK) Ltd, a Lichfield logistics firm located in Wood End Lane, Fradley, has been ordered to pay fines by Stafford Crown Court after a forklift driver, 60 year old Barry Hill, suffered neck injuries when, while trying to load a computer cabinet onto a truck, it fell on top of him. The accident occurred at Fradley Distribution Park after Mr. Hill discovered that one of the cabinets was rocking on the forks. Mr Hill subsequently got out of the forklift to prevent the cabinet from falling, but it fell forward and hit him on the head which knocked him to the ground. His neck and right wrist were broken and he has not worked since the incident on occurred 22 August 2008.
Following his accident Mr Hill was suffering from a visible head wound, however, the depot manager took him around the site to find help instead of leaving him to rest in the office with a colleague, as he did not know who the first aid people on the site were. A trained first aider did finally provide medical treatment to Mr Hill, however they did not realise how severe his injuries were. An ambulance was not called and Mr Hill was driven by the first aider to the local hospital which lacked an emergency room. Mr Hill was then airlifted to Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham. Mr Hill was in hospital for 6 weeks and 14 weeks in halo traction. To this day still suffers from neck discomfort. Because of the incident he is now partially disabled.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation and discovered that Palletways (UK) never assessed the health and safety risks of moving and loading goods and had failed to supervise employees properly. Furthermore, the company did lacked a system for treating employees who had been involved in an accident and sustained injury.
Palletways (UK) Ltd, admitted guilt to violating Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was ordered to pay a fine of £60,000 and £41,339 costs.
Lyn Spooner, a HSE inspector said that the accident Mr Hill was involved in was entirely preventable and could have left him paralysed or dead. She then went on to say –
“Any company that carries out lifting operations must assess the risks thoroughly, especially the need for proper training and supervision. There is no excuse for failing to do this, especially as free guidance is available from HSE.
“There was also a string of management failings in dealing with Mr Hill when he reported the incident. It was clear that he had suffered a head injury and Palletways (UK) should have treated this as a very serious incident and called an ambulance immediately.”