Recent prosecutions: Manufacturing company fined £500,000 for forklift-related fatality

A young father was killed after being trapped under the roll cage of a counterbalance forklift truck. The manufacturing company worker was moving waste material at his employer’s depot when the vehicle clipped a kerbstone and overturned. The man was not wearing a seat belt.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that his employer had failed to require forklift truck operators to wear seat belts. The regulator indicated they should have properly risk assessed forklift truck activities across their business and enforced the use of seat belts. At the time of the incident, individuals could choose whether or not they wore seat belts. 

The manufacturing company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and were fined £500,000. They also agreed to pay £7,039.55 in costs.

Following the hearing, the HSE inspector said: ‘This tragic incident led to the avoidable death of a young man. [His] death could easily have been prevented if his employer had acted to identify and manage the risks involved and enforced the use of seat belts by forklift truck operators.’

The importance of forklift truck seat belts 

According to the UK Material Handling Association, more than 1,300 forklift truck accidents happen every year in the UK. As in this case, overturned vehicles are the primary cause of death, with operators often falling from the truck and being crushed by the roll cage. In most instances, wearing a seat belt could have made a lifesaving difference.  

The rising trend in forklift-related accidents means courts are more likely to prosecute management who fail to make seat belt use mandatory. A commitment to seat belt safety has never been more essential.

Learn more about forklift truck safety 

We’ve created a quick guide to forklift truck safety, helping you cover compliance essentials from daily checks to ongoing maintenance. 

Read more here.