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Failure to Repair Crushed Worker & Cost £11,000 in Fines

It is disappointing to note another ‘close to home’ prosecution, and learn that a young man suffered serious crush injuries at the hands of his employer.

North End Salvage Services Ltd, a vehicle salvage firm in Stalybridge has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a ‘dangerously unsafe’ forklift truck failed, dropping a car weighing half a tonne onto a young mechanic. 

The 22-year-old employee suffered broken bones in his back and ribs, a fractured pelvis and a partially collapsed lung as a result of the preventable work accident. 

The HSE found that the forklift truck was in a dangerous condition, and an annual check on the forklift had not been performed. The lifting chains were rusted and several links were stiff or missing, which caused the accident. 

In addition there was a low level of hydraulic oil in the tank, neither the handbrake nor the horn worked, one of the tyres was badly damaged and there was no seatbelt. 

North End Salvage Services Ltd was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £6,000 costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. 

The law, together with these Regulations, are there to protect workers.  However, in this case the employer appears to have had scant regard for the young employee.  The crush injuries could have been avoided; inspections, maintenance and repair are essential on working equipment. It appears that there was such a catalogue of defects here and these would have been obvious if the employer had carried out even a cursory assessment of its machinery. 

The cost to the company now is not only the fine and the costs of this prosecution.  An increased insurance premium will no doubt follow. The employee will need sick pay during his absence, and there is lost time to the company by virtue of that absence, which may lead to loss of business for the firm.  I have little sympathy. 

This young worker needs compensation for his injuries and his financial losses. These are severe crush injuries and he is fortunate not to have lost his life. He will need assistance with rehabilitation, and care whilst he recovers.  He may also require psychological support if he struggles with the aftermath of what has happened to him. 

Tracey Graham is a Senior Personal Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester. 

Slater and Gordon have offices across England, Scotland & Wales and offer a free consultation for people injured in accidents through no fault of their own. Call freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help.