Firm back in court for second health and safety breach - Palmers Solicitors

Firm back in court for second health and safety breach

A company has appeared in court for safety breaches for the second time in just eight months after a forklift truck overturned at its Tyneside factory.

The driver, a 51-year-old agency worker employed by Radford HMY Group Ltd, was unhurt in the incident on 27 June 2012 and was able to finish his shift.

But Peterlee Magistrates’ Court heard on 9 June that the incident was reported as a dangerous occurrence and investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the company.

HSE found the forklift truck had been driven, during a night shift, on an unsuitable path that was only 40cm wider than the truck and was raised above the adjoining ground in places.

The driver was not assessed or authorised to operate the truck and had not been made familiar with the controls. It was also found that he had been taken on as a cleaner with no requirement for him to operate a forklift truck.

Radford HMY Group Ltd was served with an improvement notice to make modifications to the path to make it safer to use and these measures have now been implemented.

The court was also told that magistrates had fined the company £2,000 in October 2013 after it admitted breaching Section 2(1) of Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 following an incident in February 2012, when a worker’s hand was badly crushed in a machine on which a safety guard had been deliberately disabled.

Radford HMY Group Ltd, Hobson Industrial Estate, Burnopfield,Newcastle, was fined a total of £5,000 and ordered to pay £3,824.45 costs after pleading guilty to two offences of breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.  

After the case, HSE inspector Cain Mitchell said:   “This incident was entirely preventable and it is extremely fortunate that the driver was not seriously injured”.  

“Radford HMY Group Ltd had failed to adequately assess the risks to employees using this path and the operator in this instance had received no training at all in the use of a forklift truck. The case is all the more serious as it is the second time in less than a year that Radford HMY Group Ltd has been prosecuted for safety failings”.

Lara Murray of Palmers Solicitors said “the accident was entirely preventable and this case underlines the importance of carrying out workplace risk assessments so that appropriate measures can be identified and implemented to protect the health and safety of workers”.

Employers seeking clarification or guidance on their health and safety responsibilities or facing prosecution can find out more by contacting Palmers’ health and safety specialists Lara Murray and Jeremy Sirrell.