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National furniture company fined £1m for safety failings
A national furniture company has been fined after safety failings which led to serious neck and head injuries of a worker.
Derby Magistrates’ Court heard that in July 2015 the worker was unloading wooden furniture frames at one of their upholstery sites, when he was struck by an unsecured furniture arm which fell from an unstable load.
The impact knocked him unconscious and he suffered serious neck and head injuries.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the furniture company failed to adequately manage the risks of heavy loads being moved between manufacturing sites. The court heard the company also failed to supervise the work taking place with a number of near misses being reported from unsecured loads.
The furniture company pleaded guilty to breaching sections 3 of the Managing Health and Safety at Work Regulation and also section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and have been fined £1million and ordered to pay costs of £15,099.
Speaking after the case HSE inspector Lyn Spooner said: “[The furniture company] is a large national organisation. The fundamental and systemic failings identified in their health and safety management systems is far from what would be expected from a company of their size who has the ability to deliver higher standards of safety.
“Unfortunately [the furniture company] were unable to do that on this occasion and a preventable accident was allowed to occur.”
Unsafe loads on vehicles injure more than 1,200 people a year and cost UK businesses millions of pounds in damaged goods. Below, the HSE shows you how to secure loads safely on vehicles.
What can happen?
Unrestrained loads can increase the risk of vehicle rollover and load spillage, and risk the life of the driver and other road users.
People and load falls
An unsecured load shifts inside the trailer and is more difficult to unload. The load may have to be unloaded manually. Sending someone up onto the trailer bed to sort out a load that has shifted puts them at risk of falling off.
More information on people and load falls: http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/loadsafety/loads-people-fall.htm
Vehicles can roll over, In serious cases of load shift the vehicle can become unbalanced and overturn.
More information on vehicle roll: http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/loadsafety/vehicles-roll.htm
Product is damaged
All or part of the load may be damaged if it falls from the trailer. Product damage can be a significant cost to the business.
More information on damaged products: http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/loadsafety/product-damage.htm
Load shifts forward
If there is a gap between the load and the headboard, the load can shift forward under braking, risking the life of the driver and other road users.
More information on loads shifting forwards: http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/loadsafety/load-shifts-forward.htm
How to secure loads safely
Securing loads safely is good for business – product is delivered intact and on time.
To secure a load safely you need to make sure it is:
- restrained – tied firmly down to the load bed; and
- contained – it can’t move around (shift) inside the vehicle.
The only way to do this is with strong chains or webbing straps (lashings) attached directly to the vehicle.
If the load shifts in transit, contact the depot and agree a safe way to sort it out.
Planning your load
Planning how you secure the load is an important step to keeping workers safe.
Loading plans can help to flag up issues before they become problems.
Things to be considered will vary but could include:
- Whether the driver will witness loading.
- Who will apply the load restraints and what they should be.
- How the load will be placed on the trailer bed.
- Who will unload the vehicle and what equipment will be required.
- Who the driver should report to on arrival.
- What the driver should do if the load shifts during the journey.
Your employer should give you a loading plan – Full written details about every load you carry
The consignor – the person responsible for sending the load – is responsible for ensuring that the load is loaded so that it does not present a danger to others. It is important that the driver knows how the load has been secured, especially if he has not seen it loaded. This information should also be available to the delivery site.
Don’t just rely on word of mouth.
Time spent thinking about safe loading can help prevent all the problems of an unsafe load so make sure you:
- Have the correct equipment on your premises to load vehicles safely.
- Prepare a loading plan for each journey, to include information about:
- how the load is to be secured; and
- the location and layout of each delivery site, including unloading equipment and facilities.
Delivery plan should travel with the load
If you are a driver, you should keep this loading plan with you at all stages of the delivery. If there is anything you don’t understand in the loading plan, ask someone before you drive away.
How you can help make loading and unloading safer
- Look at what other companies do – if you see a good idea, suggest it to your safety advisor or supervisor.
- Report all ‘near miss’ incidents.
- Ask your employer about training.
For more information, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/loadsafety/index.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to help.
Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence