Howdens, UK’s largest manufacturer and supplier of fitted kitchens with over 650 UK depots, was fined £1.2m in November 2017 for crushing a delivery driver to death.
Carlisle Crown Court heard that a forklift truck was being used to unload two pallets from a heavy goods vehicle when it overbalanced. Delivery driver Richard Brown was crushed as it fell on him, dying at the scene. Richard Brown had been delivering kitchen worktops to the company’s unit at Clay Flatts industrial estate in Workington when the accident happened in November 2014.
Howdens Joinery pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) and section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was fined £1.2 million with further costs of almost £34,000.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the forklift had been overloaded. Local news reports claim that the load weighed 2,160 kg but the forklift’s maximum operational capacity was only 1,520 kg. The HSE also found that Howdens had failed to adequately segregate delivery drivers and loading / unloading operations, failing to keep delivery drivers a safe distance away.
Adam Francis, consultant at Southalls said: “This is a tragedy that could have been easily prevented by simple procedures that remove the driver from the loading /unloading area. Undertaking a risk assessment for workplace transport arrangements is just the start. This needs to be followed up with implementation of practical control measures to keep drivers safe such as remaining in their cab, in a site office or in a position of safety whilst loading / unloading takes place.”
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