Oakland fined after conveyor belt collapses on worker

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A storage and logistics business has been fined £300,000 in a prosecution brought by Worcestershire Regulatory Services after a worker was seriously injured in an unsafe lifting operation.

On 1 November 2018, three men had been attempting to move a conveyor belt from the warehouse into the back of a lorry. The two-tier belt, at nearly half a ton (423 kg) was heavy and measured 6m by 1.7m.

The equipment was due to be transported from Oakland International’s headquarters at Beoley, near Redditch, to another depot in Ireland, Kidderminster Magistrates Court heard.

The conveyor belt (pictured) became unstable and collapsed in a scissor-like action on the men, seriously injuring a worker. Photograph: WRS

As the Oakland employees tried to lift the equipment, it became unstable and collapsed in a scissor-like action. Two of the employees were pinned underneath the belt and a third man had his head and neck trapped between the two levels.

The worker was taken to hospital with serious head and neck injuries and was only discharged from hospital eight days later.

In its investigation, WRS found that a written health and safety risk assessment for the task had not been carried out. Inspectors found that the method used for moving the conveyor belt was also both crude and inherently unsafe.

The two tier conveyer unit was not secured to the floor. Photograph: WRS

In sentencing District Judge Strongman said he considered the company’s culpability to be high. He said that it was “more by luck than judgement” that there hadn’t been an accident on an earlier occasion.

Head of WRS Simon Wilkes commented: “This was obviously an extremely distressing incident for the accident victims. I am pleased that Oakland International Limited has admitted its responsibilities for the health and safety of its employees and has taken action following the accident to ensure that a similar incident will not occur again.”

Oakland International Ltd of Beoley, Redditch was ordered to pay £300,000 for the fine plus costs of £40,300 for breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.



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