A plastics recycling company has been fined for serious safety failings after a worker was stuck by a reversing forklift truck at its Hemswell site.
Robin Eddom, a 63-year-old engineer from Scunthorpe, suffered severe back and tissue injuries in the incident at ECO Plastics Ltd’s processing plant on 10 March 2012.
Mr Eddom was walking through the ‘Goods Out’ warehouse when he was hit by the reversing 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.
The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which on Monday, June 2, prosecuted ECO Plastics Ltd at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court.
The court heard that ECO Plastics had designated a separate walkway for pedestrians to use within the waste processing building. However, HSE found the company had allowed the walkway in the ‘Goods Out’ warehouse to be taped off and blocked with building materials and equipment whilst construction work was being carried out.
As a result, Mr Eddom and other employees had to share a route used by loaded forklift vehicles 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 Business Park, Hemswell, Lincolnshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £12,500 and ordered to pay costs of £5,261.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Karin Abbott said: “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.
“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.”
A spokesman for ECO Plastics said: “ECO Plastics is committed to our employees’ safety and well-being, having been awarded one of the highest standards of health and safety management in 2012.
“We take the welfare of our employees extremely seriously, and strongly regret that this incident took place.
“ECO Plastics has fully cooperated with the HSE throughout its investigation and has made a number of changes to its safety procedures to maintain its commitment to high standards in the workplace.”