HSE prosecutes shelter maker

A Skelmersdale firm which makes outdoor shelters has been fined for safety breaches after an employee lost parts of three fingers when his hand became trapped in a forklift truck.

PRF Engineering, which manufactures shelters for bikes and supermarket trolleys, was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive following the incident at its factory in Grimrod Place on 19 May 2011.

Ormskirk Magistrates' Court heard on Monday that the 36-year-old worker from Kirkby, who asked not to be named, was helping to transport a three metre-wide metal sheet when he was injured.

He and a colleague stood on top of the sheet to stabilise it on the prongs of the forklift so it could be moved, but as the sheet was lowered the worker's left hand became trapped.

He was taken to hospital by ambulance where his fingers were reattached but he has only been able to regain partial use of his hand.

The court was told PRF Engineering had failed to carry out a proper assessment of the risks faced by their workers. It should not have allowed employees to stand on top of the forks and should have found another way to transport the sheets of metal such as using a large metal basket.

PRF Engineering pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety or employees. It was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £5,164 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Imran Siddiqui, said: "This incident resulted in an employee suffering permanent damage to his left hand because not enough thought was put into his safety.

"The company should simply not have allowed workers to stabilise sheets of metal by standing on top on them on forklift trucks. It would have been obvious to anyone witnessing this that it was unsafe.

"If PRF Engineering carried out a proper assessment of the risks its employees faced then this incident could have been avoided."

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