Freight handling firm fined for health and safety breaches

A UK freight handling firm has been fined £12,000 in Court, after its owners admitted to serious health and safety breaches.

A Judge was told that a worker suffered serious injuries at one of North East Stevedoring Company’s UK sites – which led to an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive.

Mr Chistropher Smith was stuck on the lower back by falling pipes, which were poorly-secured to a vehicle – the impact of which knocked the worker to the ground and fractured both his shoulder and his spine, a Court heard.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that “there was no safe system of work in place at the time of the incident telling operatives how pedestrians and vehicles were to be kept apart”.

Gary Aitken, head of health and safety division said: “The risk of a collision between a forklift truck and a pedestrian was foreseeable and entirely avoidable.

“The failing on the part of North East Stevedoring Company Limited to have in place a system to prevent risk of injury to pedestrians on the quay lead to the severe injury of Christopher Smith.”

The firm were found guilty of breaching both the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, and subsequently ordered to pay £12,000 in fines.

“Since this incident the company has put into practice safe systems of work and revised instructions for employees involved in loading operations,” added Mr Aitken.

“Hopefully this prosecution and conviction will remind other employers that they will be held to account for their failure to fulfil their health and safety obligations.”

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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.