A food storage business has been fined and left with a bill of nearly £14,000 after an employee was run over by the wheels of a fork lift truck in a warehouse accident.
South Kesteven District Council prosecuted QK Cold Stores (Marston) Ltd for two breaches of Health and Safety legislation after an accident on June 9 last year.
Mandy Braithwaite, prosecuting for the Council, told magistrates that the male victim suffered injuries to his leg that saw skin ripped down to the bone that later required surgery and skin grafts.
The firm, which provides ambient, chilled and frozen food storage for its customers in foodservice and retail sectors, had a good health and safety record up until the incident, Grantham Magistrates’ Court heard on May 21.
The employee was walking towards a blast freeze room through a lobby area and a plastic strip curtain door in the warehouse’s main bay when the accident happened.
The victim and fork lift driver said the truck reversed from the blast freeze room through the curtain door into the lobby, resulting in the male’s right leg rolling under the fork lift truck’s wheels.
SKDC’s Environmental Health Services visited following a call from police and found no rear beacon on the fork lift truck and its light was broken.
The company health and safety and quality systems manager indicated that fork lift drivers are instructed to sound the horn before reversing through the blast freeze door but they did not know if this had happened on this occasion.
The investigation also found only two out of the four fork lift trucks inspected at the site had working beacon lights.
For the company, Phil Cookson entered guilty pleas to offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
In mitigation he said the company had evaluated its risk assessment and since the incident had made £75,000 worth of improvements in the warehouse including creating new pedestrian walkways for staff avoiding fork lift operation routes.
The court considered £10,000 fines for each offence but took into account mitigating features including the company’s positive health and safety record and reduced this amount to £6,000 fine for each offence.
This amount was further reduced to £4,000 each for early guilty pleas. QK was also ordered to pay costs of £5,718,85 and a £120 victim surcharge resulting in a £13,838.85 bill.
SKDC’s Business Manager for Environmental Health Anne-Marie Coulthard said: “The fine serves as a reminder to businesses of the measures they need to consistently enforce to ensure the safety of staff at all times in their day to day procedures and operations.
“The company in this case co-operated fully with the investigations and we’re pleased measures have now been taken to improve safety.”