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FORK LIFT INQUEST

Inquest hears of factors leading to forklift overturn and fatality 

An inquest in Somerset has heard how 22 year-old Rob White died beneath a fork lift which overturned. The jury was told by a witness how Mr White “drove the truck for a short distance …. did a 180 degree turn and as it toppled I saw Rob fall out of the door and stand upright and it was only a split second before it crashed down on him.” Colleagues rushed to the scene to help and found him trapped beneath the roll bars of the cab.

A verdict of misadventure was recorded. The jury heard of a number of factors that contributed to the death. These included:

  • failure by the management to enforce safety regulations; 
  • lack of regard for regulations in the company handbook; 
  • untrained employees driving lift trucks to keep production flowing;
  • H&S Manager shocked to learn that forklifts were used by unauthorised drivers and;
  • foreman showing the deceased how to use a forklift during Saturday overtime. 

Safety had improved since the death with authorised and trained forklift drivers having their own numbered keys to the vehicles. Keys are no longer left in the cabs, a list of authorised drivers is available and radio communication provided so that production operatives can call for a forklift driver when needed.

Comment: This death did not occur on a construction site, however, the contributory factors outlined above are ones that could perhaps emerge during the investigation of a lift truck accident in any sector. The incident highlights the importance of regular and robust monitoring to check that what a H&S managements system says should happen, is happening on the ground.

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