A packaging company based in Essex has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after safety failings led to one of its staff suffering a serious injury at work.
LP Foreman & Sons was fined £7,000 plus costs of £621 after pleading guilty to two breaches of the law over the workplace accident which occurred in August last year.
The 44-year-old local man suffered the injury as he stepped from the rear of his lorry, having helped a forklift truck operator reach a pallet inside the vehicle, which had been parked at the company's premises in Chelmsford.
As this happened, he was hit by the forklift truck and in addition to the serious break, suffered significant tendon damage and a fracture blister that covered his lower leg.
Fortunately, the driver recovered sufficiently to return to work in November and undertake light duties, before resuming work as a driver in January this year.
A work accident investigation by the HSE found it had become common practice at the firm for lorry drivers to guide forklift truck drivers where they should place loads in order to make their delivery easier. However, this meant the lorry drivers would then be moving about the yard on foot in the same area as forklift truck drivers.
When this happens, safety regulations state that procedures must be put in place to keep those on foot and moving vehicles apart. However, this turned out not to have been implemented in this instance.
As a result of this accident, the company accepted charges of breaching Regulation 17(1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
HSE inspector Paul Grover said the company should have recognised the dangers of its loading practices and taken steps to minimise the risk of work accidents in the yard.
He remarked, "This was an entirely preventable injury caused by LP Foreman & Sons' failure to recognise the hazards arising from loading operations at their premises.
"Our investigation found that there was an absence of effective systems of control which were sufficiently robust to allow workplace transport and pedestrians to circulate the site in safety.
"It had become regular practice for delivery drivers to take up positions where forklift trucks were loading or unloading and this unsafe practice has led to a serious injury."
The HSE guidance on the separation of people and vehicles states that it is a legal requirement to ensure pedestrians or vehicles should be able to use a traffic route without putting the health and safety of others in danger.
It notes that roadways and footpaths should be isolated from each other "whenever possible" and advises employers that they "need to consider protection for people who work near a vehicle route".
Risk assessments should include marking out any crossing points to ensure the safe movement of those on foot across the line that any moving vehicles might take, as well as identifying any places where both pedestrians and vehicles have to use the same route.