$165,000 Fine in UK Forklift Rundown

A 60-year-old worker at a Scottish meat plant was run over by the driver of a forklift who couldn't see him because the vehicle was so badly loaded, HSE reports.

A Scottish company, Vion Foods Scotland Limited, entered a guilty plea Aug. 18 and was fined £100,000 (equivalent to $165,600 in U.S. dollars) in connection with the June 2009 death of an employee. George Hardie, 60, was walking across the yard of the meat plant to deliver paperwork when a forklift driver ran over him, pinning him beneath the vehicle.

The Health and Safety Executive's investigation concluded the driver could not see Hardie at all because the forklift was so badly loaded with two large, empty containers.

"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," HSE's release stated.

The agency said Vion Foods had not properly assessed the risks of moving the containers and did not have a safe traffic management system or adequate supervision in place to keep pedestrians away from vehicles. "If Vion Foods Scotland Ltd had taken simple steps to keep their employees safe, Mr Hardie would still be alive today," HSE Inspector Peter Dodd said. "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."

The company pleaded guilty to breaking Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

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