A multinational logistics company has been fined £800,000 plus £25,000 costs after one of its workers was run over by a forklift truck loaded with beer.
Gary Odger, 57, told Barking Magistrate’s Court how his right anklebone was left sticking out and his foot was hanging backward after the incident on 3 July 2017. The London Air Ambulance was called.
Kuehne + Nagel Drinks Logistics Limited (KNDL) of Choats Road, Dagenham, failed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all its employees under Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
KNDL pleaded guilty at Barking Magistrates Court on 21 June 2019 and was sentenced on 4 February this year.
District Judge Susan Holdham in passing judgement said: “I consider that the level of culpability is high. While KNDL had some systems in place – such as the 2-metre rule, the wearing of high-vis vests, [and that] equipment operators face the directions of travel – these were insufficient.
“KNDL failed to ensure that drivers and crews were not permitted in the warehouse or yard while forklift trucks were operating, they failed to provide barriers around the whole of the warehouse rather than just one side, they failed to provide painted floor markings and zebra crossing points.
“They failed to provide separate entrances for vehicles and pedestrians as the fire door only had a handle on the inside and thus could not be used from the outside, so pedestrians and vehicles entered by the same main door.
“Although it does not appear that concerns were raised by the fleet staff and warehouse men … the transit point manager raised concerns. She said that floor markings had been requested for five years: ‘going back five years, we’ve been asking for the floor markings’.”
Councillor Margaret Mullane, cabinet member for enforcement and community safety, said: “Here in Barking and Dagenham we encourage and welcome businesses, but they have to operate within the law. The health and safety of employees must be paramount and for those who choose not to obey the law, we will take action.”
Barking and Dagenham Council investigated the depot on Choats Road after the incident and found possible health and safety breaches.
The authority then issued an improvement notice as a result of the company’s failure to organise its premises, “in such a way that pedestrians and vehicles can circulate in a safe manner”.
A subsequent site visit found that while a few of the planned actions were still outstanding, there had been effective compliance with the notice.
A KNDL spokesperson said: “We have cooperated fully with the competent authorities. We always aim at achieving the highest level of health and safety for all parties involved in all our operations. Our Safety & Health Management System continuously evaluates the status of our work environment while fostering its continuous improvement.”