Lifting large objects can be dangerous business, and it's critically important to carry out the right safety measures in order to minimise the risk of an accident. Failure to adhere to the lifting safety regulations can lead to serious injuries (or worse), and the responsible parties may face prosecution, hefty fines, and even imprisonment.
To see just what can happen when lifting safety guidelines are ignored, you need look no further than the example of Knowsley Engineering Services Ltd, a Merseyside firm that was hit with a £30,000 fine this week after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
On the 30th of June, 2014, two workers were moving a structure using a forklift truck. Their goal was to lift the structure from its trestles and manoeuvre it away, but as the structure was being raised up, it twisted around and swung into the cabin of the forklift truck, striking its driver.
That forklift driver, a 46-year-old man from West Lancashire, came away from this incident with serious flesh wounds and a broken arm. This week, his employer (Knowsley Engineering Services Ltd) plead guilty to workplace safety violations at Liverpool Crown Court, resulting in a £30,000 fine (plus costs of £7,670).
How could this have been prevented?
Speaking after the court hearing, a representative from the Health & Safety Executive issued the following statement:
"Had the company taken basic steps, such as providing suitable training so that those undertaking the lift were in a more informed position to assess and then adequately manage the risks, this incident would have been avoided."
With that in mind, here's a breakdown of how this unfortunate incident and the subsequent court hearing could have been prevented:
- Employee training. Workers who are required to undertake tasks such as this one should be fully trained to identify risks and take any necessary safety precautions in order to ensure the safe completion of the job at hand.
- Risk assessment. Trained workers should know how to carry out a full risk assessment ahead of commencing a lifting/handling job. In an ideal version of this scenario, someone would have completed a risk assessment and spotted the possibility that the structure might twist towards the forklift.
- Use of the correct equipment and safety measures. Preventing accidents means taking the right precautions and select the right tools/equipment for the job. In this case, it seems likely that a forklift was entirely the wrong solution for the task at hand, and a different piece of lifting equipment should have been utilised instead.