Firm fined after worker is crushed by glass pallet

A company has been ordered to pay more than £100,000 after a worker was left with life-changing injuries when a glass pallet fell on top of him.

Andrew Potts, from Nottingham, broke his neck in five places in the incident at a depot in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

The 58-year-old was left disabled after the pallet, weighing more than one tonne, fell on him from a lorry.

Leicester-based United Pallet Network (UK) has admitted safety breaches.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company’s system of working was inadequate.

The HSE said the pallets had not been appropriately loaded or secured and fell out of the trailer onto Mr Potts as he made attempts to rectify the problem.

The company also failed to provide adequate training in how to deal with loads that had shifted while being transported, the report said.

Due to his injuries, Mr Potts has been unable to work since and his wife Dawn has had to give up her own job to become his full-time carer.

“This has been extremely hard to deal with, emotionally, physically and financially,” he said.

“Dawn used to come home crying, wondering whether I would make it, and how she and the family would cope.

“I am having to adjust to this new way of being as I continue to struggle to accept what has happened.

“I had recurring nightmares following the incident – I would wake up screaming, sweating or crying.”

As well as the multiple neck fractures, which resulted in a halo being screwed into Mr Potts’s head for several weeks, he also suffered many other injuries including broken bones in his leg and feet.

“I can’t walk very far at all, I use walking poles in an attempt to keep me as upright as possible to walk outside of our home,” he said.

At Stafford Crown Court, United Pallet Network (UK) Ltd, of Vantage Business Park, Leicester, pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations.

The company was fined £94,667 and ordered to pay costs of £7,754.

HSE inspector Andrew Johnson said: “This is yet another tragic, and avoidable workplace incident that should never have happened.

“This is why it is crucial that transport companies get their trailer loading and unloading systems right.”

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Steve Kilburn
Steve Kilburn
I initially trained as an industrial chemist working in a variety of manufacturing environments eventually moving into quality management which grew to encompass environmental and occupational health and safety management systems. I hold a Masters Degree in Health and Safety law and Environmental Law and a Post Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Waste Management and I am a Graduate Level Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). In my spare time I enjoy reading, my favourite author is Stephen King, and listening to music, generally from the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
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