Company fined £1.2m after death of lorry driver in forklift truck tragedy

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The importance of a robust workplace health and safety policy has been underlined by a court case in which a joinery chain was fined £1.2 m after a visiting driver was crushed to death.

Agency HGV driver Richard Brown, 48, from Yorkshire, was delivering kitchen worktops to a Howden Joinery Ltd site in Workington when he was crushed as a forklift truck overturned while lifting kitchen worktops from the trailer of his lorry.

An investigation into the 2014 incident found the forklift truck had been overloaded and that visiting delivery drivers were not kept at a safe distance from the loading and unloading operations.

At Carlisle Crown Court, Howden Joinery Ltd of Portman Square, London pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £1.2 million with costs of £33,902.00.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Steven Boyd said: “Standing too close to where loading or unloading work is being carried out can put people in harm’s way so people, such as delivery drivers, should be in a position of safety when forklift trucks are operating.

“This tragic incident could have been avoided if Howden Joinery Ltd had implemented a safe procedure to ensure that pedestrians were kept at a safe distance during loading and unloading work.

“Duty holders should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”