Firm fined after worker's death
A FARMING company has been fined £35,000 after one of its employees was crushed to death by a forklift truck.Kevin Smith was working for Anglia Grain Services when he was sent to Mulley'sFarm in Little Bromley as part of seed processing work the company carried out.
A FARMING company has been fined £35,000 after one of its employees was crushed to death by a forklift truck.
Kevin Smith was working for Anglia Grain Services when he was sent to Mulley'sFarm in Little Bromley as part of seed processing work the company carried out.
Chelmsford Crown Court heard yesterday that the 48-year-old from Tiptree, who also worked as a special constable at Hadleigh in Suffolk, was working with two other employees “dressing” 2.2 tonnes of wheat with chemicals in November 2002.
Prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, James Ageros, said a forklift was used to hold large bags capable of carrying 400kgs of seed after it was processed on one of the company's lorries.
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He said as one bag of seed filled the forklift then carried it away and the process would start again.
However the workers would regularly walk between an 18-inch gap between the forklift and the lorry.
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Four bags had been filled without a problem but when it was decided to clean the system out there was a problem shutting the machine down on the lorry.
Robert Howe, the Mulley's Farm foreman, jumped down from the forklift, putting the handbrake on as he went to help.
But the bag started to overflow and one of the team, Michael Fenner, realised and tried to move the forklift to prevent a spill.
However, he was unfamiliar with the gear system and the vehicle lurched forward and backwards, “slamming” Mr Smith against the lorry.
Mr Smith was given first aid as the emergency services were called, but he was declared dead at the scene.
Mr Ageros said the company had not made adequate risk assessments and when the seed bag was up it was impossible for the forklift driver to see anyone in the gap.
The company of Wissington Road, Nayland, had pleaded guilty at an earlier appearance to failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees.
Mitigating for Anglia Grain Services, Gerard Forlin, said the company accepted the blame lay “totally and only” with them and said they had been “devastated” by Mr Smith's death.
He said Mr Smith had been a good friend of the family which runs the company and that his brother still worked for them.
Mr Forlin said safety reviews had been made and the company now placed fold-out signs to prevent workers from walking into the gap between the lorry and a forklift.
Sentencing, Judge Gareth Hawkesworth, said the fine of £35,000 was not meant to represent the value of Mr Smith's life. He also ordered the company to pay £17,000 in costs.
Afterwards, Martin Kneebone, an inspector with the Health and Safety Executive, offered his sympathy to Mr Smith's wife, Dawn.
He said: “Each year there are around 5,000 forklift truck accidents reported to us, many resulting in serious injury. Hopefully this case will once again remind all companies of the hazards and risks associated with this equipment and the importance of taking appropriate steps to manager those risks.
“The fine imposed on Anglia Grain Services represents only part of the real costs of this accident to the company and should send a clear message to all industries that workplace transport must be properly managed.”