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Firm fined after forklift truck operator is crushed to death

A large steel fabrication company has been fined £135,000 after a forklift truck driver was killed when the truck he was operating overturned.

A large steel fabrication company, Severfield (UK) Limited has been fined £135,000 after a forklift truck driver was killed when the truck he was operating overturned. 27 year old Kelvin McGibbon was reversing the forklift truck when it struck some steps causing it to overturn. Mr McGibbon was not wearing a seatbelt and suffered crush injuries which proved fatal.

An investigation by the HSE into the incident which occurred on 13 March 2013 found that the company failed to manage forklift truck driving operations. They did not enforce the wearing of seat-belts or control the speed at which some FLT operators drove their trucks. However, the offence to which the company pleaded guilty was not a significant cause of the fatal accident.

Lisa Roberts QC, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, told Teesside Crown Court how scores of employees, tasked with undertaking 30,000 forklift truck lifts annually at the £100m turnover firm, had been “exposed to danger” as it prepared steel for projects such as Heathrow Terminal 5, Cleveland Energy from Waste Plant, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and the London Olympic Stadium.

John Cooper QC, mitigating, said while the firm had not caused Mr McGibbon’s accident, Severfield had faced up to “uncomfortable truths” and had learnt lessons, enforcing rules on speeds, seatbelts and turning on slopes and introducing regular, rigorous and multi-layered safety checks.

The company based in North Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to a non-causative breach of Regulation 5(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and was fined £135,000 and ordered to pay costs of £46,020.

HSE inspector David Welsh said after the hearing:

"A company has a legal duty for the health and safety of people working on its site, whether they are employees or not. They are required to assess risks, eliminate them where possible and enforce proper control measures, such as seat belt wear, by checking that safe driving practices are being followed to deal with the risks that remain.

Sadly, in this case, the prosecution shows that the company’s management of FLT driving operations and risk control measures failed which exposed employees to danger."