A Lincolnshire recycling company that failed to segregate workers and vehicles has been fined after an engineer suffered “devastating physical and psychological injuries” when he was struck by a reversing forklift truck.
Robin Eddom, 63, was walking through the ‘goods out’ warehouse at ECO Plastics Ltd’s Hemswell processing plant on 10 March 2012 when he was hit by the vehicle.
He was taken to hospital by air ambulance with internal bleeding, two damaged vertebrae in his lower spine and extensive tissue damage to his back, shoulders, neck, thighs and knees. He has been forced to take early retirement from work as a result of his injuries.
Lincoln Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday that ECO Plastics had designated a separate walkway for pedestrians to use within the waste processing building. However, HSE inspectors found the company had allowed the walkway in the goods out warehouse to be taped off and blocked with building materials and equipment while construction work was carried out.
As a result, Mr Eddom and other employees had to share a route used by loaded forklifts, which were regularly manoeuvring and reversing. ECO Plastics took no steps to provide or redirect their employees to an alternative, safe pedestrian route, inside or outside the warehouse.
ECO Plastics Ltd of Hemswell, Lincolnshire, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £12,500 and ordered to pay costs of £5,261.
“This could so easily have been a fatal incident. Mr Eddom has been left with devastating physical and psychological injuries, which have forced an earlier retirement from work and will leave him in discomfort for the rest of his life, said HSE inspector Karin Abbott after the hearing.
“The incident was entirely preventable. Mr Eddom should have been able to use the designated walkway provided within the building, but this was not possible as this walkway was completely blocked by stored building materials and equipment.
“The dangers associated with vehicle movements around pedestrians are well-known in the industry. However, ECO Plastics failed to recognise the dangers the blocked walkway had created or provide adequate control measures to ensure the warehouse could be safely accessed by pedestrians while construction work was underway.”
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