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Man hit by forklift because walkway was blocked

06 June 2014

The Goods Out area of ECO Plastic’s warehouse had a designated pedestrian walkway but that was blocked due to building work and the company had not provided an alternative safe route for pedestrians.

Robin Eddom, a 63-year-old engineer from Scunthorpe, suffered severe back and tissue injuries in the incident at the plastics recycling company’s processing plant on 10 March 2012.

Mr Eddom was walking through the ‘Goods Out’ warehouse when he was hit by the reversing vehicle. He was taken to hospital by air ambulance with internal bleeding, two damaged vertebrae in his lower spine and extensive tissue damage to his back, shoulders, neck, thighs and knees.

The court heard that ECO Plastics had designated a separate walkway for pedestrians to use within the waste processing building. However, HSE found the company had allowed the walkway in the ‘Goods Out’ warehouse to be taped off and blocked with building materials and equipment whilst construction work was being carried out.

As a result, Mr Eddom and other employees had to share a route used by loaded forklift vehicles which were regularly manoeuvring and reversing.

ECO Plastics took no steps to provide or redirect their employees to an alternative, safe pedestrian route, inside or outside the warehouse.

ECO Plastics Ltd of Hemswell Business Park, Hemswell, Lincolnshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £12,500 and ordered to pay costs of £5,261.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Karin Abbott said: "This could so easily have been a fatal incident. Mr Eddom has been left with devastating physical and psychological injuries, which have forced an earlier retirement from work and will leave him in discomfort for the rest of his life.

"The dangers associated with vehicle movements around pedestrians are well-known in the industry. However, ECO Plastics failed to recognise the dangers the blocked walkway had created or provide adequate control measures to ensure the warehouse could be safely accessed by pedestrians while construction work was underway.”

The Handling & Storage Solutions Safer Logistics Campaign

Handling & Storage Solutions has launched the Safer Logistics campaign to promote health and safety awareness in logistics in 2014.

We were inspired to launch the campaign by the Health and Safety Executive encouraging all stakeholders to show leadership and ‘be part of the solution’.

It is vital to push home the message that poor health & safety practices have no place in the modern logistics world.

What you can do

Clear safety first principles are worth repeating.

- If you doubt the safety of a working practice, stop. Talk to your supervisor or manager and agree a safe way of proceeding. Don’t carry on and hope for the best.

- No matter who you are in the management structure or workforce, take responsibility for your safety, don’t assume someone else has taken care of it.