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Somerset firm fined after death of director

Somerset firm fined after death of director

A commercial vehicle maintenance company has been fined for multiple safety failings after a director of the firm suffered severe injuries when a fork lift truck he was driving overturned. A factor in the prosecution was the lack of a Thorough Examination.

Robert Dawe, from Yeovil, was using the forklift to clean out a drainage gully at Chard Truck Services Ltd’s premises in October 2010 when it overturned, trapping him between the ground and the overhead protection system.

Mr Dawe, who was 58 at the time, was taken to hospital with multiple rib fractures but later had a heart attack, suffered loss of oxygen to the brain and died nine weeks later on Christmas Day.

Taunton Crown Court heard that an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed the forklift did not have a seatbelt and had not been examined in accordance with the statutory requirement for it to undergo a yearly Thorough Examination. Furthermore, neither Mr Dawe nor any other employees had been provided with training in its use.

The court was told HSE had previously visited Chard Truck Services Ltd in February 2008 and advised the company to take action on a number of safety issues, including securing the key of the fork lift truck on the basis that it was no longer being used and ensuring the competence of the individual responsible for health and safety, who was said to be Mr Dawe at the time.

Chard Truck Services Ltd was fined a total of £50,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 costs after pleading guilty to a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and a separate breach of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Mehtaab Hamid said: “Chard Truck Services Ltd neglected its duty of care toward its employees and, despite HSE’s advice well before the incident, provided an unsafe vehicle to untrained drivers for the purposes of operations which themselves had not been properly risk-assessed.

“The risk of the forklift overturning on the site had not been identified or controlled. The dangers here were magnified as a result of the forklift not being fitted with a seatbelt.

“All employers must ensure fork lift trucks and lifting equipment are properly maintained, potentially hazardous work is properly planned and robust safety precautions are put in place.”

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