On 28 May 2015, three agency workers were loading rebar onto HGV trailers for onward transfer. One man was acting as banksman while the other two each operated a forklift truck to lift the long bundles in tandem.
During the loading procedure a single bundle of rebar weighing 1,924 kg, sitting on the forks of the two trucks, was struck by the reversing HGV’s headboard. This caused it to fall onto the banksman who was standing on the far side by the vehicle’s cab.
Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard the victim sustained multiple fractures, lacerations, scarring and abrasion, ligament reconstruction to his left knee and has undergone four operations, culminating in the amputation of two toes. He has been unable to return to work since the incident.
HSE investigators found no suitable risk assessment relating to the hazards arising from loading bundles of rebar onto reversing flatbed trailers had been carried out. The tandem FLT lifting operation was also not properly planned, supervised or carried out in a safe manner.
The Mersey Docks and Harbour Company pleaded guilty to breaching s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,593.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Rohan Lye said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to ensure they provide safe methods of working and a safe working environment. If suitable controls had been in place the serious physical injuries sustained by this worker could easily have been prevented.”
The company, part of Peel Ports, operates the deepwater Port of Liverpool on the River Mersey, the UK's largest transit point for grain and animal feed imports and recycled metal exports.
A second case, relating to unsafe handling of explosives, is currently being heard in court.