*UPDATE* PVC maker fined for teen’s forklift crush failed to report previous incident
Wednesday 13th September 2017
From the archive: Just so you know, this article is more than 3 years old.
Ben Pallier-Singleton had worked at the PVC manufacturer's site in Chinley, Derbyshire, as a process operative for about 12 months when the accident happened on 10 February 2015.
He was working the nightshift at the plant's plastic extrusion department, where rolls of film are made. At 4.20 he drove a FLT down a sloping concrete roadway in the external yard to collect some pallets, but did not return, Manchester Crown Court was told.
The FLT slid on the concrete before its right-rear wheel fell 45 mm off the edge of the ramp and on to an area of compacted hard ground that butted up against it. The truck overturned despite being fitted with a system of active stability (SAS). Pallier-Singleton was not wearing his seatbelt and the truck's safety frame landed on his neck, fatally injuring him.
"In theory, the [SAS] means the truck should have remained upright even though it dropped off the edge," said HSE inspector Berian Price. "The company tried to say the deceased didn't drive the truck in the correct manner but there's no evidence to suggest that."
The HSE and Derbyshire Constabulary found that when the accident happened the road was extremely slippery because it was covered in mud and waste plastic granules that had spilt in the yard.
A series of safety failings were uncovered during the joint investigation.
Illuminance levels for lighting in the yard were below the minimum 20 lux recommended in HSE guidance, Lighting at Work (www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg38.pdf). In addition the light output of the FLT's headlamps was estimated to have been around just half as Vinyl Compounds' failure to regularly inspect the truck meant dirt had accumulated on them. This would have impaired the driver's forward vision in the dark, Price observed.
The company had not taken steps to eliminate the 45 mm drop at the edge of the roadway, including installing a barrier to help prevent truck drivers falling down it. It had failed to show workers the risk assessment that said the on-site speed limit was 10 mph, and had not fitted its FLTs with speedometers or any other form of speed control.
Finally, Vinyl Compounds had failed to provide Pallier-Singleton with adequate FLT training. The HSE found that he underwent a two-day basic training course in December 2014 -- six months after he is thought to have first started driving the truck. He was not given on the job training and familiarisation training, which are the second and third stages of FLT training recommended in the HSE approved code of practice.
Price said: "He was trained basically on flat surfaces in a warehouse environment. He was never trained to drive a truck in external yard areas or at night time."
The inspector added: "The company had no policy regarding the wearing of seatbelts."
The HSE discovered that several other Vinyl Compounds workers had been injured in accidents that had not been reported to the executive. In 2012, for example, one employee was left unable to work again after he was seriously injured in an incident involving a FLT.
Price said the company had accepted that it had failed to inform the HSE of the earlier injuries but insisted it had adopted preventative measures.
"It was our opinion that they hadn't put sufficient and adequate measures in place and there was certainly a failure to learn from previous accidents. The failure to report the previous FLT accident deprived the HSE of the opportunity to investigate that accident," he said.
After Pallier-Singleton's death, Vinyl Compounds tarmacked its external yard and eliminated all sloping roads and steep boundary edges. It now mandates the wearing of seatbelts and has fitted its FLTs with an interlock system that prevents the driver from operating the truck without the belt being worn.
Judge John Potter fined the company and ordered it pay full costs of £71,778 on 4 September after it pleaded guilty to breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and reg 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. (See the table below for how the judge applied the sentencing guidelines.)
Sentencing guidelines application
Seriousness of harm risked:
Likelihood of harm:
1, moved up from 2
Size of organisation:
Starting point for fine:
£600,000 for each offence
One-third discount for the first offence, 25% discount for the second offence
Judge applied the totality principle and fined it £450,000 plus £71,778 costs
Ben Pallier-Singleton was driving the FLT down a sloping road in Vinyl Compounds’ Chinley yard in Derbyshire in the early hours of 10 February 2015 when it tipped over. He sustained fatal head and neck injuries, Manchester Crown Court on Minshull Street was told. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Derbyshire Constabulary found that Vinyl Compounds had failed to adequately train Pallier-Singleton, who was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.
Self-employed electrician David Shanks had been contracted by Greencore to fit new machinery designed to deliver icing sugar to mixing machines located in the sugar paste room at its cake and dessert production factory in Hull. The work involved wiring two motors, which were on a gantry 3 m above ground.
Lincoln Crown Court was told on 15 September that forklift driver Stephen Woollas was transporting tyres on 30 July 2014 when the vehicle ran over a loose tyre in the road at Vacu-Lug’s Grantham base. He was not wearing a seatbelt and when the truck overturned, Woollas was crushed between the vehicle and the ground. He later died of his injuries.A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that as well as its lack of a seatbelt policy Vacu-Lug had stored the tyres insecurely, allowing them to roll on to the roadway.
Merthyr Magistrates’ Court was told that machine operator Paul Dignam was standing on the control platform of a computer numerical control (CNC) milling machine that he was test programming. The machine’s three overhead millers and the linked control platform had started to traverse the horizontal milling bed when Dignam stepped off to adjust the cooling jets.
A 29-year-old employee of Taylor Engineering and Plastics (TEP) developed the condition from sanding tools that he used while working in the factory’s trimming department, Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court was told. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that although TEP was required to provide health surveillance under regulations that were introduced in 2005, it had failed to do so until 2014.
The 39-year-old worker for Sterry Lane, trading as LPD Demolition, was part of a group working on a site in Staffordshire.The men were removing debris near an excavator when it reversed. It ran over the employee and left him with punctured lungs, liver injuries and multiple fractures to his legs and pelvis. He has not been able to return to work since the accident in May 2016.