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Company fined £140,000 after death of worker crushed under forklift truck

05 June 2015

A Leicestershire aluminium fabricator has been sentenced after a worker was crushed under a lifting truck which tipped over while lifting extruder dies from storage racks.

Stefan Durina, 33, of Beeston, Nottinghamshire, died following the incident at Boal UK Ltd in Shepshed, near Loughborough, on 23 June 2013.

Leicester Crown Court heard that Mr Durina was trapped underneath an overturned hi bay order picker truck he was using to collect or return aluminium extruder dies, types of metal mould, to the racked storage system.

Mr Durina suffered fatal chest and abdominal crush injuries and died from his injuries in hospital the next day.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) concluded that the incident was entirely preventable and stemmed from three material breaches of health and safety law. These were inadequate risk assessment for collecting and replacing dies in storage racks, an inadequate safe system of work for the use of a Narrow Aisle High Level Reach Truck and the company’s organisation of lifting operations in the die storage area.

Boal UK of Ashby Road East, Shepshed, Loughborough, was fined £140,000 and ordered to pay £32,251.31 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

In his sentencing remarks, the Judge stated that Boal UK fell far short of the applicable standards and in particular, there was a prolonged and very substantial failure on the part of the company in relation to its monitoring, supervision and enforcement of safe working procedures in the die shop.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Berian Price said: "Mr Durina’s death was entirely preventable and his life was needlessly lost. This incident happened because of management’s failure to ensure a safe system of work was in place that was clearly understood and adhered to by employees and supervised by departmental management. This stemmed in part from the lack of appropriate controls to prevent the lifting truck coming into contact with overhead beams, and from poor control of working practices.

"In addition, there was a failure on behalf of management to record and learn from previous near-miss incidents.

"Lifting operations, which often present severe risks to workers, must be properly planned, controlled and adequately supervised. Serious and fatal incidents have occurred due to workers being crushed by lifting equipment

"It is therefore important to properly enforce, plan and organise lifting operations so they are carried out in safe manner. Each of these elements requires a person or people with sufficient competence to be notified at each step.

"For complex and high-risk operations, the planning and organisation should be extensive and meticulous. Dutyholders should also consider ‘foreseeable misuse’, such as overloading.”

Advice on the safe operation of lifting trucks is available at www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/lift-trucks/index.htm