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2 TONNES OF PLASTERBOARD CRUSHED WORKMAN

Unsecured boards on fork lift truck fell causing severe injuries

William Fulton Building Services Ltd has been fined after a workman was crushed under nearly two tonnes of plasterboard on a house extension project at Duntocher, Scotland, in January 2011.

Dumbarton Sheriff Court heard (21 November) that joiner, Stuart McNaught, was installing plasterboard. William Fulton drove an unsecured load of 82 plasterboard sheets on a fork lift truck to the extension and began to lower the board into a courtyard. The forks were “iced up” and the road had not been gritted.

Mr McNaught and a co-worker were in a courtyard and watched the FLT boom extend over a wall. The workers began to guide the load from the forklift to the ground when Mr McNaught noticed the plasterboard move. He tried to move to a safe position but in doing so he slipped and the load fell and trapped him.

Site workers attempted to lift the plasterboard but as it was too heavy. Mr Fulton drove the forklift into the courtyard to lift the boards from Mr McNaught who was taken to hospital with a broken rib, pelvis, punctured lung and fractures to his right ankle and both legs.

HSE investigators found the company failed to address how the plasterboard could be lifted and moved safely, particularly at the time when the site was badly affected by ice. William Fulton had not received basic training in using a forklift truck.

A trained operator would have considered the safest route and ensured that people would not be working in the area while material was being unloaded. He would also have recognised that there was ice on the forks of the truck which would make the load more likely to move.

Proper risk assessment would have identified risks

William Fulton Building Services Ltd, of Drymen Road, Bearsden, Glasgow, was fined £8,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Moira Jennings said:

“This incident was clearly foreseeable and therefore readily avoidable. Working below a forklift truck is dangerous and the company should have carried out a proper risk assessment. This would have identified the risks of moving materials around the site and to employees standing near the plasterboard while it was being unloaded from an elevated position.

The plasterboard should have been placed flat on the ground in the yard or at the entrance rather than expecting people to collect them from an elevated position on the raised forks of the vehicle. William Fulton should have ensured he had good visual contact and communications with Mr McNaught, who should have been wearing a hi-vis vest and standing well away from the forklift as the load was lowered.

As a result of the failures of William Fulton Building Services Ltd, Mr McNaught suffered severe injuries.”

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