UK firm Tangerine Confectionery has been fined £120,000 ($202,000) for safety failures that led to a worker's foot being impaled by a forklift truck.
Forklift operator Keith Lowe suffered life changing injuries at the company’s Blackpool plant in September 2012 after his forklift collided with another forklift that entered the factory through plastic curtains.
Surgeons saved Mr Lowe’s foot but he is now only able to work short distances with a walking stick.
HSE Inspector Michael Mullen said: “Mr Lowe has suffered a horrific injury that will affect him for life because Tangerine Confectionery failed to implement effective traffic management at its Vicarage Lane warehouse.”
Tangerine Confectionery had placed plastic curtains over the warehouse entrance to keep out birds and insects, but this was found to obstruct the view of forklift drivers entering the facility.
Mullen said that workers raised concerns about driving through plastic curtains but these were ignored by management.
The firm was also said to have overcrowded the warehouse with pallets while maintenance work was being carried out.
Tangerine was prosecuted by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at Preston Crown Court yesterday. HSE’s investigation found that the crash was one of three collisions at the same location of the factory within three months.
“The company introduced physical hazards onto route ways without assessing their effects, and the result can best be described as chaotic. The fact that there were three collisions in just three months in the same spot shows this wasn’t just a one off incident but something that was almost inevitable,” said Mullen.
The company was fined £120,000 ($202,000) and ordered to pay £9,538 ($16,000) in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to breaches of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
Tangerine Confectionery said in a statement that it deeply regretted the incident.
“Tangerine Confectionery Limited is committed to ensuring the health and safety of all our employees, customers and visitors as a top priority across the business. We continually invest considerable resource to ensure that the health and safety policies in place are both robust and fit for purpose.
“As recognised today at the hearing, immediate action was taken after the incident with the aim of preventing future instances occurring on any of our sites.”
Tangerine has since changed the layout of its warehouse and has installed proximity alarms and clearly marked traffic routes.