A Lakenheath company has been told the lack of training that left a man crushed under a fork lift truck was ‘carelessness bordering on recklessness’.
Murfitts Industries Ltd was ordered to pay more than £28,000 at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court, on Thursday, having admitted breaching Regulation 9 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment regulations.
Dimitris Tolstovs suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung when the fork lift he was driving tipped over. He also had to undergo an operation to remove his spleen and take eight months off work. He remains on penicillin and painkillers.
Matthew Taylor, prosecuting, said Mr Tolstovs had been told to move tyres using a fork lift truck with a heavy attachment despite being untrained to use the equipment and not holding even a driving licence.
Mr Taylor said: “As he turned to the right the fork lift truck overturned. Mr Tolstovs jumped out as he felt it turn over but unfortunately he was crushed by the fork lift truck. He received significant injuries.”
At the time the fork lift tipped Mr Tolstovs raised the clamp in order to avoid a collision. He was not told that raising the clamp would make the vehicle unstable or that he should have been wearing a seatbelt.
Mr Tolstovs had been supplied to the company, which recycles tyres, by an agency.
The court heard that training for agency staff was informal and operated on a ‘buddy’ system.
Eleanor Sanderson, mitigating, expressed the company’s regret that it found itself before the court.
She said: “They accept it was their responsibility either to ensure staff were properly trained or provide that training themselves.”
Miss Sanderson said that Mr Tolstovs had been observed to be competent in other tasks and this may have led to the assumption he was qualified.
She told the court that since the accident health and safety experts had been consulted and measures had been put in place to refresh training for agency and permanent staff.
Miss Sanderson said “This was a result of carelessness rather than a deliberate or reckless breach of the law. It was not an action or lack of action driven by financial motives.”
Presiding magistrate Mrs Challinor said: “We believe this incident to be carelessness bordering on recklessness. As a company you failed to provide sufficient training in fork lift trucks which caused significant injury to an agency staff member.”
Murfitts Industries were fined £17,000, ordered to pay £10,985 in costs and a £120 victim surcharge.