Manufacturer fined after impaled worker dies

A large international manufacturing company has been fined for poor health and safety in the workplace after a staff member died from being impaled on a forklift truck.

Andrew Davies, 43, of Oldbury, was conducting his normal duties at a transport yard at Mapei UK's Steel Park Road site on July 1st 2010 when the incident took place.

Jurors at Wolverhampton Crown Court were told that Mr Davies had been asked to empty a machine using a forklift truck, before moving the contents of it to a bag that was held on the inside of a cage.

As he did this a lorry driver reversed an 18-tonne rigid-back truck and pinned the 43-year-old between the back of his vehicle and the cage which was resting on the metal prongs of Mr Davies' forklift truck.

His head was impaled against the forks, killing him instantly.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was immediately informed and its investigation revealed a number of failings by Maipei. Companies are obliged to segregate pedestrians and vehicles to reduce the chances of an accident but this was not put in place, inspectors discovered.

No walkways or ground markings were seen in the yard and no physical restrictions were in place to prevent this kind of accident from happening.

While a system was put in place to get drivers to hand in their keys on arrival, something meant to protect on-foot members of staff, this did not apply to all vehicles.

For its part in the failings that led to Mr Davies' death, Mapei was fined £173,332 after it pleaded guilty to breaching two sections of the Health and Safety at Work act.

Mr Davies' mother, Margaret Davies of West Bromwich, said: "Andrew's death hit me very hard, as I also lost my youngest daughter, Joyce, at just 36. It is really hard to explain the hurt, grief and anger I feel. A parent never thinks she will outlive her own children.

"Andrew was a good lad and his heart was in the right place, and he loved his job and going to work."

By Francesca Witney