• Derbyshire-based company has been fined over death of a 19-year-old worker
• Fork lift truck overturned at company’s site in Chinley, Derbyshire
On 10 February 2015, Ben Pallier-Singleton was driving the fork lift truck at night time down a sloping roadway. Unfortunately, the vehicle overturned and he suffered fatal crush injuries.
The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was initially led by Derbyshire Constabulary and it concluded that the deceased had not been adequately trained. Also, tragically, he had not been wearing a seatbelt at the time that the vehicle overturned. The investigation also discovered that the company had not notified their employees of the speed limit on-site or enforced the speed limit. There were no measures in place to control the speed of vehicles and the site did not have adequate lighting and edge protection in place to avoid fork lift trucks overturning.
Hearing and Pleas
Vinyl Compound Ltd of Stephanie Works, High Park, Derbyshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
The company was fined £450,000 and ordered to pay costs of £71,778.20.
Ben’s mother, Kathryn Pallier, said after the sentencing hearing:
“Ben was and always will be my beloved son, and much-loved brother to Dan and Sophie. Ben was a young man at the start of his life, full of life, fun and the excitement of plans and ideas for the future with his girlfriend, Kensey. He was the shining light of our family and brought everyone together.
I am heartbroken and angry that Ben could go to work and be killed because his employer, Vinyl Compounds, took so little care of him, failed to train him or make sure the workplace was safe. It is utterly shocking that this can happen even now. The directors who made the decisions will be now able to get on with their lives but we are serving a life sentence. Any fine they have paid is nothing, no penalty at all compared to the penalty we face: life-long torment, endless sadness and grief without Ben.”
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Berian Price said:
“This tragic incident could have easily been prevented. The company’s management of fork lift truck driving operations and its failure to provide various measures to ensure the safety of the external yard area coupled with the lack of safe driver measures, such as wearing a seat belt, exposed employees to serious safety risks."
“Sadly, in this case, these failures resulted in the needless loss of Mr Pallier-Singleton’s life.”
Safety Smart Comment
• It is difficult to understand why dutyholders take a laid back attitude to health and safety, particularly when their employees are responsible for driving vehicles which could, without adequate training, cause serious or fatal injury to themselves or others.
• This case is an upsetting example of what can happen when drivers haven’t been trained to safely drive a vehicle and do not have a full appreciation of the dangers associated with the vehicle that they are responsible for driving.
Further Reading – There is an Approved Code of Practice for lift truck operator training which can be found on the HSE website. It provides practical guidance about employers' obligations when fork lift trucks are used on site.