Oxford Crown Court heard how a 39-year-old male employee sustained crush injuries to his left foot when he was hit by a forklift truck (FLT) at the Oxford Mini plant on 6 October 2014.
The court also heard that the following day a 55-year-old Operations Manager sustained severe injuries including internal bleeding, a fractured pelvis and punctured lungs after a large metal box became unstable and fell from the forks of a truck striking and pinning him underneath. He was walking along a marked pedestrian walkway at the time of the incident.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that FLT operators and their supervisors were not properly trained and the risk assessments in place were poor. The investigation also found that there was inadequate segregation of pedestrians and vehicles.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Kelly Nichols said: “It is vital that drivers are competent and have received appropriate information, instruction and training. Sites should be well-designed and maintained with suitable segregation of vehicles and people in order to minimise the risk of workplace transport accidents.
“The risks from workplace transport in warehouses and the required control measures to manage those risks are well known and publicised in HSE publications. It is really disappointing to find Rudolph & Hellmann Automotive Limited (RHA) failing to manage and control the risks associated with the lifting and movement of vehicles and goods in a busy workplace.
“Sadly, in this case, the prosecution shows that RHA’s management of FLT driving operations and risk control measures failed which exposed employees to danger from falling loads and from being struck by a vehicle. These serious injuries were preventable.”
Rudolph & Hellmann Automotive Limited, of Sandford Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and was fined £265,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £14,943.30.
Every year, there are over 5000 accidents involving transport in the workplace. About 50 of these result in people being killed. The main causes of injury are people falling off vehicles, or being struck or crushed by them.