The company was fined £60,000 in total and ordered to pay £41,339 costs.



A Lichfield logistics firm has been fined after a forklift driver broke his neck when a computer cabinet he was loading onto a trailer fell on him.
Barry Hill, 60, was operating the truck at Palletways (UK) Ltd, Fradley Distribution Park, when he noticed that one of the cabinets was rocking on the forks.

Stafford Crown Court heard Mr Hill got out of the forklift to catch the cabinet but it fell forward, hitting him on the head and knocking him to the ground. His neck and right wrist were broken and he has not worked since the incident on 22 August 2008.

After the incident Mr Hill was bleeding from a visible head wound, but the depot manager did not know who the first aiders were and took him around the site looking for help rather than leaving him in the office with a colleague.

A trained first aider assessed Mr Hill but did not recognise the seriousness of his injuries. Nobody called an ambulance and instead the first aider drove Mr Hill by car to a hospital with no accident and emergency unit, from where he was airlifted to Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham.

He spent six days in hospital and 14 weeks in halo traction and still suffers from discomfort in his neck. He has been left partially disabled following the incident.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident found that Palletways (UK) had failed to assess the risks of moving and loading goods, and to instruct, monitor and supervise forklift drivers properly.

In addition, the company did not have a clear system for dealing with employees who had suffered incidents or injuries at work.

Palletways (UK) Ltd of Wood End Lane, Fradley, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £60,000 in total and ordered to pay £41,339 costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Lyn Spooner said:

“This was a preventable incident that could easily have resulted in death or paralysis.

“Each year, about 8,000 incidents involving lift trucks, often caused by poor operator training, are reported to HSE.

“Any company that carries out lifting operations must assess the risks thoroughly, especially the need for proper training and supervision. There is no excuse for failing to do this, especially as free guidance is available from HSE.

“There was also a string of management failings in dealing with Mr Hill when he reported the incident. It was clear that he had suffered a head injury and Palletways (UK) should have treated this as a very serious incident and called an ambulance immediately.”

The HSE publication ‘Rider-operated lift trucks: Operator training’ can be downloaded for free at