Paper manufacturing firm AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings Ltd has been fined £600,000 after one of its workers was crushed in an ‘avoidable accident’.
An AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings employee working at the company’s premises in Small Heath, Birmingham, was walking across a pedestrian crossing at the site when he was struck by a forklift truck driven by another worker. The injured man sustained a crushed leg and ankle, requiring surgery and skin grafts.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the accident found that the driver of the forklift truck did not slow down while approaching the pedestrian crossing, and his vision had been restricted as the forklift truck was carrying multiple intermediate bulk containers.
The HSE also found AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings had failed to provide an adequate risk assessment or a safe system of work. There was also a lack of appropriate supervision, which, the HSE said: ‘led to the adoption and development of an unsafe custom and practice on-site.’
At Birmingham Magistrates’ Court, AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings Ltd, of Wexham Road, Slough, Berkshire, admitted breaching s 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company – a manufacturer of paper and paperboard – was fined £600,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,188.60.
Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Marie Wheeler said: ‘This incident could so easily have been avoided by the employer adequately assessing the risks and ensuring a suitable workplace transport system was implemented, with correct management and supervision in place.
‘Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.’
In a statement, AkzoNobel Packaging Coatings, said: ‘Our first thoughts are with our former colleague affected and we deeply regret the injury caused by this incident. Our former colleague was unable to return to work following the incident, but we remained in regular contact and paid him his full salary until he left the business.
‘The health and safety of our people is our number one priority and we understand the severity of this matter and take it very seriously.
‘We accept the court’s findings and the fine imposed and have cooperated fully with the Health and Safety Executive. Our actions since the incident demonstrate our commitment to ensuring the safety of our employees, and we will continue to work tirelessly to prevent similar incidents happening in the future.’
Accidents involving site transport and forklift trucks are, sadly, all too common.
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