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Practical advice

07 March 2019

The Safer Logistics Zone at The Health & Safety Event provides a fantastic opportunity to get practical advice that you can take back to your warehouse or logistics operation and put to good use.

The Health & Safety Event takes place at the NEC in Birmingham from 9-11 April 2019. The Safer Logistics Zone gives hard-pressed warehousing and logistics professionals a chance to pick up advice and guidance from experts and peers who have rolled out safety initiatives on the past.

HSS magazine was inspired to launch the Safer Logistics Campaign five years ago by the Health & Safety Executive. With the remit of the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) growing narrower, every contribution counts and the HSE has encouraged media, managers and industry bodies to show leadership and ‘be part of the solution’. As a media outlet we can help to promote health and safety awareness across the logistics and materials handling sector.

Thankfully, workplace safety culture has been improving but there is reason to guard against complacency. Two recent prosecutions successfully brought by the HSE raise many questions, and highlight significant gaps in awareness.

Poorly planned lift

In the first of these in incidents, a poorly planned lift led to the death of 37-year-old worker, Andrew Bowes in 2012. Preston Crown Court heard how, on 12 March 2012, Mr Bowes, a metal fabricator employed by Larkin Eng Services, died while working at the company’s premises on Meeting Industrial Estate in Barrow in Furness.

Larkin Eng Services had contracted Cumbria Design Scaffold to collect two large metal walkways and deliver them to a customer using a flatbed lorry fitted with a mounted crane. Mr Bowes was directed to assist with the lifting operation by his employer. The first walkway had been lifted onto the back of the lorry but was not fastened down. As the crane moved to pick up the second walkway, a sling became snagged on the first walkway, causing it to tip over and fall from the back of the lorry onto Mr Bowes who sustained fatal crush injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Cumbria Design Scaffold had failed to properly plan the lifting operation. The company failed to recognise the risks involved and did not have a safe system of work for what was a complex lift. Cumbria Design Scaffold also failed to supervise the lifting operation properly. As a consequence, the lifting operation was poorly organised and controlled, placing those in the immediate vicinity at significant risk.

The investigation also found that Larkin Eng Services had failed in its duty to ensure the safety of Mr Bowes. It had directed Mr Bowes, who had only been working for the company a week, to become actively involved while the operation was taking place.

Cumbria Design Scaffold of Ulverston, Cumbria pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been ordered to pay fines of £60,000 and costs of £27,464.28.

Larkin Eng Services of, Barrow in Furness, Cumbria pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been ordered to pay fines of £20,000 and costs of £27,211.09.

Brain injury

In th second incident, a distribution company based in Warrington was sentenced after an agency worker sustained serious, life-changing injuries while working in Cheltenham.

Cheltenham Magistrate’s Court heard how, on 18 May 2017, a 27-year-old agency worker arrived at the Gloucester depot to begin his first day of work with the company as a multi-drop delivery driver. After a brief induction process, the worker delivered his first drop successfully however the address provided for the second drop was incorrect and therefore a delivery of 12 beer kegs was not made.

When on his next delivery, the worker used a pallet truck to manoeuvre the beer on the lorry to gain access to the next load on his list. He fell backwards from the raised tail lift onto the road and several kegs of beer fell and struck him. The worker suffered serious injuries including a traumatic brain injury and facial fractures requiring metal plates to be inserted into his skull.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the worker had no previous experience in using the type of pallet truck or tail lift involved in the incident. He was not given any practical training in the safe use of this machinery, nor was he made aware of safe working practices on how the pallet truck should be used on a tail lift. H&M Distribution, as an employer, failed in its duty to carry out checks on the injured person’s competence and previous experience. As a consequence of their failure to make these checks, they did not provide adequate training.

H&M Distribution of Newton Le Willows, Warrington pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Regulation 1974. It has been fined £60,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,203.14.