Boat manufacturer fined £50,000 after Northwich employee's head was crushed (From Northwich Guardian)
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Boat manufacturer fined £50,000 after Northwich employee's head was crushed
A NORTHWICH man was left with a torn ear, chipped teeth and nerve pain after his head was crushed against the top of a lorry container.
The 49-year-old, who has asked not to be named, had been lying on top of a stack of kayaks at Runcorn-based boat manufacturers Pyranha Mouldings Ltd.
He had been trying to pull the last boats into a container when the incident occurred on March 2, 2011.
On Friday, September 20, Pyranha Mouldings was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and fined £50,000 following the incident at its factory on the Whitehouse Industrial Estate.
The company was also ordered to pay £6,562 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Chester Crown Court heard that the as the employee climbed from the container into a cage to be lifted down to the ground by a forklift truck, the forks were raised and he was crushed against the top of the container.
The court was told the company had used this method of loading kayaks for several years, despite employees requesting a ramp to be built to make it easier to load the boats into containers.
A HSE investigation found Pyranha had used an unsafe system to load the kayaks and had failed to carry out a risk assessment or provide employees with suitable training.
The work was also not properly planned and there was poor communication between the forklift driver and the man in the container.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Adam McMahon said: “The company should never have used a cage to lift workers down from containers, but it allowed this practice to happen over several years.
“The employee could easily have been killed when he was crushed against the top of the container.
“Employees had raised concerns about this method and suggested using a ramp instead, but it was only after this incident that Pyranha Mouldings took any action to improve safety.”
Mr McMahon said that had a ramp been used at the time of the incident, the employee’s injuries could have been avoided.
He added: “This case shows how important it is that companies listen to their workers and implement safe systems of work.”
A spokesman for Pyranha Mouldings Ltd told the Guardian the company had no further comments to make.
Information on the safe use of forklift trucks is available at hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport
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