MyFresh Prepared Produce has been handed a fine of £38,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,320 after two workers were injured in separate forklift truck incidents. The processing factory in Chicksands was the scene of a second forklift accident six days before the date for compliance with a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Improvement Notice issued after the first incident.
Mr Bottesch of Flitwick was the first victim of these safety failings, as the warehouse team leader was trapped between two forklift vehicles whilst speaking to a driver in the goods yard. He sustained several fractures to his leg, foot and hip. Due to the injuries, surgery was needed to insert pins and metal plates into his leg. Nerve damage has left him with foot drop, a condition which affects the sufferer’s ability to lift the front part of their foot. After being away from work for a year, Mr Bottesch has had to return to an administrative postition due to the physical demands of his previous role.
A HSE investigation resulted in the issue of an Improvement Notice as there were no designated vehicle routes despite the busy pedestrian activity in the yard. The notice specified that improvements needed to be made by 29rd April 2014. Six days before these were due, a second worker was injured by a forklift. The technician was hit by a reversing forklift truck whilst he was carrying out an inspection of raw goods. He sustained a fracture to his leg.
The court was informed by the HSE that both of these accidents had been preventable but for the lack of control and management of vehicle movements.
HSE Inspector Emma Page said:
“Prior to the two incidents, we identified evidence of near misses in the Chicksands goods yard that should have alerted MyFresh to the need to better manage the movement of people and forklift trucks.
“The risks were clear, but not enough was done to control them and Mr Bottesch was seriously injured as a result.
“The second incident happened while changes were belatedly being made to improve systems of work in order to comply with the Improvement Notice. However, the company had failed to identify quality control operatives as persons at risk. As a result they had not considered what controls might be necessary to separate these workers whilst they were carrying out their checks in the yard.
“It was another incident that was entirely preventable.”
According to data provided by the HSE, over a fifth of all non-fatal workplace transport injuries involve forklift trucks (19% of major injuries and 24% of over-3-day injuries).