Friday, 9 January 2015

Gardiners Colours fined after death caused by load falling from forklift truck

Gardiner Colours was fined £116,000 (inc. costs) after a worker died when he was crushed beneath a one tonne silo of varnish that slid from the tines of a forklift truck and toppled onto him.
The circumstances were:
  • Gardiner Colours makes inks, varnishes and coatings.
  • A customer had returned part of an order as it couldn’t decant varnish from a silo and had asked for the liquid be re-sent in 10kg plastic containers.
  • Because of difficulties in changing the order, workers were tasked with decanting the varnish directly from the silo into the containers via a tap at the base of the silo, which had been raised on the tines of the forklift on 25 March 2011.
  • Gardiner Colours failed to assess the risks to workers of the decanting operation. As a result, employees were operating without a system of work in place to help them do the job in safety.
  • It is dangerous for the forklift to be used to balance heavy loads for extended periods – a job for which it was not designed.
  • There had been previous near misses with a load falling from the tines of a forklift truck but not action had been taken.
  • As Wayne Potts worked on the decanting, the silo slid down the tines and fell directly onto him. He died in hospital later the same night.
  • A combination of the creeping heavy load, the downward tilt of the forks, and the valve being used frequently from below, had caused the silo to fall.

The HSE Inspector said:
“A system that involves a person standing in the immediate vicinity of a suspended load on a forklift truck, which had no driver, is inherently unsafe. The forklift is not capable of holding elevated loads for long periods yet it was a system that had been allowed to develop over time, despite there being readily-available, safe alternatives. Every worker should quite rightly expect that they will return home safely from work every day. Sadly this did not happen for Wayne Potts that day but there is no doubt that his death was avoidable had Gardiner Colours effectively managed the health, safety and welfare of its employees and learned lessons from previous incidents and near-misses.”

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