Two Scottish engineering businesses have been fined for safety failings after a worker’s hand was crushed while helping a forklift truck driver to unload steel beams.
The 54-year-old was an HGV driver and had delivered the beams to a company in Stirling. He was standing on the flatbed trailer while a forklift began to unload the second bundle of steel. As it was lifted, the steel became unstable and rolled away from the forklift truck. The metal strapping broke and the beams separated, falling towards the driver.
He attempted to jump out of the way but was hit by one of the beams which trapped his feet against the flatbed trailer. He fell towards the ground with his feet still trapped and put his right hand down to break his fall.
All four fingers on his right hand were shattered and he had a laceration across his palm which damaged the nerves, exposed the tendons and cut the blood supply to his fingers. He underwent a 12-hour emergency operation to save and rebuild his right hand, but he has yet to regain sufficient function in his right hand to return to work as an HGV driver and may never do so.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) determined both his employer and the company receiving the beams had compromised safety by neglecting to fully assess the risks involved in unloading the steel beams.
His employer was fined £16,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety At Work etc Act 1974.
The company where the beams were unloaded was fined £10,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3 of the same Act.
“This was an entirely avoidable incident,” commented HSE Inspector Michelle Gillies. “The dangers associated with the delivery and unloading of steel, in particular the risks associated with the use of a forklift to carry out the task and the risk of being struck by falling loads, are well-known in the industry and readily foreseeable.”
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