Multiple Mistakes Lead to Fatal Forklift Accident

The overturned forklift truckA 29-year-old forklift operator in the UK was killed after his forklift tipped over on him during his first day on the job at a recycling facility, and investigators say the accident was entirely preventable.

The fatal forklift accident was the result of multiple mistakes — including using the wrong type of forklift for the job, not requiring operators to wear seatbelts, and unsafe working conditions — and resulted in a fine of more than $281,000 to the man’s employer, investigators announced last week.

Temporary Worker Just Four Hours into His First Day

The incident occurred April 26, 2010, when Ian Aliski, of Wirral, Uk, reported for his first day of work at the Recresco Ltd. glass recycling facility in Ellesmere Port, near Liverpool. Aliski had been hired on a temporary four-day contract at the plant and was moving waste material known as aggregate from the production area to a storage shed.

Loose material made the surface Aliski was driving across uneven. His forklift tipped over and he was crushed underneath his vehicle. He was transported to a local hospital where he died from his injuries.

Uneven, Debris-Strewn Surface

Investigators from the Health and Safety Executive — the UK’s equivalent of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — determined that the forklift Aliski was driving and other forklifts at the plant were the wrong type for driving on uneven surfaces or over loose materials.

Aliski should have been provided with a four-wheel drive, all-terrain shovel loader for the job he was assigned, they said. Those type of vehicles were already in use in other areas of the plant on the day the accident occurred.

Company Has Corrected Problems

Company officials told the Liverpool Crown Court that since the accident, the facility now exclusively uses those types of vehicles to move all waste material on the site.

Investigators further determined that there was no company regulation in place that required operators to wear seat belts when driving forklifts.

“He died from crush injuries as a result of being propelled from his seat as it overturned,” said Judge Thomas Teague. “It is extremely unlikely he would have been able to fall or jump if he had been restrained by a simple lap belt.”

 

Fixes Came Too Late

The company now has a policy place requiring their use at all times in vehicles.Yet those steps came too late to save Aliski’s life, according to Martin Paren, the lead investigator on the case.

“Ian was just a few hours into his first day at work for Recresco Ltd when this tragic accident occurred,” Paren said. “Our investigation revealed a series of failures at the plant, with forklifts being used in an area that was completely unsuitable because of the uneven surface created by waste material scattered around the floor. There was also no policy in place for the use of seatbelts.

“Sadly, it was entirely foreseeable that someone was at risk of being badly injured or killed,” he said. “If the company had taken some simple measures to reduce the risks — such as using the all-terrain vehicles in use elsewhere on the site — then Ian’s tragic death could have been avoided.”

Company officials pleaded guilty to violating the country’s health and safety laws. In addition to the fine, Recresco Ltd also ordered to pay $60,415 in court costs.

“To those who loved Mr. Aliski, no sentence will seem remotely adequate and they are right to think that,” Teague said. “His life was priceless and it cannot be measured in monetary terms. No penalty this court can inflict can ever undo the tragic events of April 2010.”

Company officials told the court that the business was operating at a loss, but was “reasonably confident” it could pay the fine at a rate of about $39,000 per month.

 

 

 

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