NEWS: Bakkavor fined after forklift ‘nudge' leads to worker fatality

The investigating HSE inspector on the Bakkavor Foods case, in which an employee was killed after being knocked off balance by a toppling stack of food trays, said poor segregation had caused the incident.

Prepared foods and salads manufacturer, Bakkavor Foods Limited, was fined £176k at Falkirk Sheriff Court in June after employee Mr McLean died from injuries following his fall on 22 March 2016.

HSE inspector Stuart Easson said Mr McLean, 57, had been helping to move returned empty food trays into Deli 4, Carriden Industrial Estate, on Bridgeness road, Bo’ness in Scotland.

“Empty trays were forklifted off refrigerated lorries and placed in an area, where they were then wheeled off by a couple of members of staff including, Mr McLean and taken inside the building.”

On the day of the incident, a stack of trays measuring around 6 feet high had been placed on the ground by the forklift.

When it proceeded to collapse: “Mr McLean with the help of his colleague rebuilt the stack,” he said. “The forklift came along with another set of trays, put those down and slightly knocked the set that were already there that had just been restacked,” said Mr Easson.

“This caused them to collapse again, touching Mr McLean and this caused him to stumble and fall backwards and he hit his head on the curb outside the building.” He died in hospital two weeks later as a result of his injuries.

Falkirk Sheriff Court heard on 19 June how Bakkavor had failed to ensure there was sufficient segregation between trays being put into the area where people were. “It was foreseeable that either something like this could happen, where one stack of trays was knocked into by the forklift, or the actual forklift itself with a stack on it could have come into a person as well because there was no segregation between the person and the drop off area,” said Mr Easson.

Bakkavor Foods Limited of Bridgeness Road, Bo’ness pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £176,000.

Since the incident, safe systems of work have been introduced, he said. There is now a ‘two stage drop off and movement process’ with a segregated area that is operated by a movable gate so forklifts cannot drop off more than one stack at a time.

“This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident caused by the failure of the host company to implement safe systems of work,” concluded Easson.

“This risk was further amplified by the company’s failure to undertake safety measures including segregating vehicles and employees”.