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PRECAST FIRM FAILED TO TRANSLATE INSTRUCTIONS

Firm prosecuted after migrant worker struck by fork lift fork

Elite Precast Concrete Ltd has been prosecuted after a migrant worker suffered serious leg injuries when he was struck by a forklift truck whilst removing excess concrete from moulds at the company Telford factory in 7 July 2011.

Telford Magistrates heard (16 Nov) that the injured man placed the concrete in a bucket directly on the forks of the forklift despite a written instruction stating the bucket should be placed on a pallet and not directly on the forks. However, this instruction had not been translated into Polish for the benefit of migrant workers the company employed, many of whom did not speak English.

Instruction translation and effective communication missing

Elite Precast Concrete Ltd, of Unit L, Halesfield 9, Telford, Shropshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The firm was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,897

After the hearing HSE inspector Katharine Walker said:

“The incident was entirely preventable. Had the instruction requiring the use of a pallet to move the waste been translated into Polish and effectively communicated to the workers, Mr Kosmacz would not have had to endure these painful injuries.

Elite Precast Concrete Ltd took no effective steps to prevent this incident. They relied heavily on migrant labour but lacked the arrangements to allow those workers to enjoy the expected level of safety.

The company had allowed an unsafe custom and practice to develop. There was no effective segregation of vehicles and pedestrians and the means of transporting the waste concrete was bound to bring the two into contact.

Mr Kosmacz had been working in this manner for a number of weeks – it was not a single error on a single day; there was an inevitability that someone was going to get hurt.”

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