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Worker crushed by unsecured forklift load

25 November 2014

A worker was severely injured when he was crushed under nearly two tonnes of plasterboard that fell from a forklift on an icy building site.

Stuart McNaught, a joiner for William Fulton Building Services Ltd, was putting up plasterboards at the time.

His employer, William Fulton, had brought more plasterboards sheets for the job and was using a forklift truck to lift the load onto the site.

The court was told William Fulton had not received basic training in using a forklift truck.

Mr Fulton drove the unsecured load of 82 plasterboard sheets, weighing 1925kg, down the road towards the extension and began to lower them into a courtyard. The court heard that the forks were iced up and the road had not been gritted.

Mr McNaught, then 36, and another employee were in the courtyard below the forklift and watched the boom extend over a demolished wall. As the workers began to guide the load from the forklift to the ground Mr McNaught, who was not wearing a hi-vis vest and could not see Mr Fulton, noticed the plasterboard move. As he tried to get out of the way, he slipped. The load fell off the forks and landed on Mr McNaught trapping him.

On hearing his screams, the other site workers tried to lift the plasterboard but as it was too heavy, Mr Fulton drove the forklift into the courtyard to lift the boards off Mr McNaught.

The Health & Safety Event
Western Business Exhibitions and Handling & Storage Solutions magazine are delighted to announce the Safer Logistics Seminar Theatre and Feature Area, which will form a crucial part of The Health and Safety Event.

This major event takes place at the NEC from 24-26 March 2015.

The Health & Safety Event is officially endorsed by the International Institute of Risk & Safety Management (IIRSM). The event is supported by the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) and Safety Groups UK.

Event partners are: Alcumus, Ansell, Arco, Du Pont, NQA and title sponsor 3M.

The Safer Logistics Seminar Theatre and Feature Area promises a wealth of education and advice tackling safety hot spots in warehousing and logistics. 

We are pleased to announce the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA), the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA), and the Food Storage and Distribution Federation (FSDF) are involved as partners and will bring their unwavering commitment to work safety and breath of expertise to the exhibition.

The Health & Safety Event is the flagship of a series of events representing a great use of time for visitors from virtually any industry and at any level, not just health and safety professionals. The venue in the heartland of UK industry is ideal, while the educational content addresses the most topical and pressing safety issues. The event is geared to provide a worthwhile experience for the time-pressured visitor.

The Health & Safety Event is joined by three co-located shows at the NEC - Maintec, Facilities Management, and the New Cleaning Expo, further adding value to exhibitors and attendees. 

Western Business Exhibitions Events Director Tim Else says: "Four complementary shows under one roof at the NEC creates the central UK hub that health & safety professionals really want - in the heart of the country.  Safety, facilities, maintenance and cleaning & hygiene suppliers will serve to provide an unsurpassed visiting experience.”

To inquire about exhibiting at The Health and Safety Event contact: Tim Else 01342 333722 telse@western-bp.co.uk; Sally Anne Wood 01342 333720 swood@western-bp.co.uk; Jos Diamond 01342 333723 jdiamond@western-bp.co.uk.


He was taken to hospital with a broken rib, pelvis, punctured lung and fractures to his right ankle and both legs. He returned to work after five months but continued to suffer from chronic pain and resigned a year later. However, he returned to the company in April this year.

William Fulton Building Services was prosecuted after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the company failed to address how the plasterboard could be lifted and moved safely, particularly at the time when the site was badly affected by ice.

A trained operator would have considered the safest route and ensured that people would not be working in the area while material was being unloaded. He would also have recognised that there was ice on the forks of the truck which would make the load more likely to move.

William Fulton Building Services, of Drymen Road, Bearsden, Glasgow, was fined £8,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Moira Jennings said: "This incident was clearly foreseeable and therefore readily avoidable. Working below a forklift truck is dangerous and the company should have carried out a proper risk assessment. This would have identified the risks of moving materials around the site and to employees standing near the plasterboard while it was being unloaded from an elevated position.

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.

"The plasterboard should have been placed flat on the ground in the yard or at the entrance rather than expecting people to collect them from an elevated position on the raised forks of the vehicle. William Fulton should have ensured he had good visual contact and communications with Mr McNaught, who should have been wearing a hi-vis vest and standing well away from the forklift as the load was lowered.

"As a result of the failures of William Fulton Building Services Ltd, Mr McNaught suffered severe injuries.”