Sunday, 17 August 2014

Viners Grain fined £240,000 after lorry driver killed by load falling from forklift truck

Viners Grain, a Stonehaven animal feed company, was fined £240,000 on 15 August 2014 after a lorry driver was crushed to death when a 2 tonne, fully-loaded grain bin fell onto him from a forklift truck.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred during grain loading operations where a bin containing grain is lifted by forklift truck.
  • Viners Grain LLP did not have in place a safe system of work for the task and operators were left to carry it out in any way they saw fit. 
  • The company had assumed the forklift training they had received from an external provider would cover safe working.
  • Despite previous incidents of grain bins slipping from the forks of the trucks, no mechanism or device to secure them had been installed. 
  • There was also poor visibility in the loading area where the forklifts were operating; failures in work systems and in training for employees.
  • Although the company’s site rules required visiting drivers to keep away from the loading operation until advised by the forklift driver, this was not communicated to employees or drivers.
  •  As a result employees regularly allowed visiting drivers to help loading by pulling the grain bin lever to release the feed. Supervisors were on site and aware that this was happening.
  • There was also poor visibility in the loading area where the forklifts were operating; failures in work systems and in training for employees.
  • Lorry driver David Leslie was standing near the base of the grain elevator during a loading operation on 18 March 2013.
  • He was in this position so that he could pull the lever in the grain bin to release the feed once it was in position.
  • The forklift driver picked up the grain bin, which weighed over 2 tonnes, and raised the forks to just under 2m to allow better visibility.
  • However, the bin started to move on the forks and he shouted a warning, but Mr Leslie was in front of the forklift when the bin fell off the forks and struck him.
  • Mr Leslie died after suffering crush injuries to his head, neck and chest.

Since the incident the company has stopped using metal grain bins and now only uses cloth bags. It has updated its risk assessments and work procedures and now prevents visiting drivers from assisting in lifting operations. Visiting drivers are also asked to sign that they have read the site rules.
The HSE Principal Inspector said:
“East Coast Viners Grain LLP’s failure to act to make sure its employees and visiting drivers were adequately protected during loading operations, has led to the tragic death of Mr Leslie, which could have been so easily prevented. The issues with unsecured loads on forklift trucks and the dangers of inadequate segregation of vehicles and people are well-known in all relevant industries. Around a quarter of all workplace transport incidents involve forklift  trucks, with 50 per cent of these happening because someone is hit either by the vehicle or a falling load. It was entirely foreseeable that there was a risk of death or serious injury if the grain bin fell from the forklift truck, particularly as the company was aware of previous incidents of loads falling.”

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