Prosecution when meat plant worker killed by forklift UK

A Livingston firm has been fined £100,000 after a worker was killed when he was hit by a forklift truck so badly loaded its driver could not see him.

George Hardie, 60, from Livingston, was walking across the yard at Vion Food Scotland Ltd in Broxburn, West Lothian, on 2 June 2009 to drop paperwork off at another part of the site.

As he was walking, a colleague was driving a forklift carrying two large empty containers across the yard to be washed.

The containers were stacked on top of each other on the front of the forklift, and the top of the load was approximately 160cm from the ground, making it hard for the driver to see over them.

As the driver approached the container wash, he felt his truck go over something, stopped, climbed out and saw Mr Hardie lying on his back, with the lower half of his body trapped underneath the forklift.

Colleagues attempted to help Mr Hardie before the emergency services arrived. Fire crews freed Mr Hardie, but when paramedics treated him they found he was not breathing and there were no signs of life. He was taken to the New Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, but was found to be dead on arrival.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Vion Foods Scotland Ltd had not properly assessed the risks of moving the containers around the yard or made arrangements to make sure the containers were moved in a safe way. The investigation also found the company did not have a safe traffic management system or adequate supervision in place to keep pedestrians away from vehicles.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Peter Dodd said:

"If Vion Foods Scotland Ltd had taken simple steps to keep their employees safe, Mr Hardie would still be alive today.

"Forklifts were being moved around the yard with loads that meant the drivers could not clearly see where they were going. At the same time, employees were walking through the same yard, with no separation between them and the traffic, and no more protection than a high visibility jacket.

"The company should have taken steps to make sure the containers were being moved in a safe way, and managed the traffic in the yard so that people and vehicles were not sharing the same space."

At Livingston Sheriff Court today (18 August 2011) Vion Food Scotland Limited of Kirkton Campus, Livingston, pleaded guilty to breaking Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and were fined £100,000.