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Company in court after forklift injures employee’s foot and leg

An Aberdeen-based firm has been in court for safety failings after one of its employees was injured when a forklift truck ran over his leg and foot.

What happened?

Derek Bonnar was one of four employees who were pressure-washing naturally-occurring radioactive material from components in two large wash bays, in a restricted zone at Scotoil Services Ltd’s site.

The four men had been working in two teams, and at one point the 51-year-old found himself working alone when one of the workers from the other team returned driving a forklift truck.

Mr While, who was driving the forklift, reversed and then moved forward to load components. At the same time Mr Bonnar was walking backwards, and the forklift collided with him, crushing his left leg and right foot.

Mr Bonnar was left with fractures to his foot, and a broken leg. He was in hospital for a week, then spent a further seven weeks in a wheelchair.

An investigation into the incident found that Scotoil had failed to provide satisfactory segregation between vehicles and pedestrians within the restricted zone. It also hadn’t provided instructions on controlling the vehicles while pedestrians were working.

Though Scotoil did carry out its own investigation into the incident, no changes had been made to the system or the layout of the premises when the Health and Safety Executive visited six weeks later.

A prohibition notice was then issued to stop the use of vehicles in the area until a safe system of work had been put in place.

The investigation also found that a similar incident had occurred the previous year, when another Scotoil employee was hit by a forklift and injured in the process.

What was the outcome?

Scotoil Services Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992, and was fined £5,000.

HSE Inspector, Sarah Forbes, said:

“Scotoil Services Ltd was aware of the need for vehicles to be
working in this area at the same time as workers, but
despite this it failed to put measures, such as
walkways or marked transport routes, in place
to prevent the risk of vehicles
colliding with pedestrians.

“The company had taken action after the 2011 incident which
went over and above that required by HSE’s improvement
notice at the time. However, the risks in the
controlled zone were not fully recognised
and similar safety measures had not
been installed.

“The dangers associated with vehicle movements around pedestrians
are well-known. Every year there are over 5,000 incidents
involving transport in the workplace. About 50 of these
result in people being killed.

“This incident was entirely avoidable. Instead Mr Bonnar was left
with a painful injury, and needed several months to recover.”

If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com

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