Howdens, the national manufacturer and supplier of fitted kitchens, appliances and joinery products has been fined £1.2m after the death of a visiting HGV driver at one of the company’s premises.
Carlisle Crown Court heard how Richard Brown, an agency driver, was delivering kitchen worktops to a Howden site in Workington when he was crushed to death as a forklift truck overturned whilst lifting kitchen worktops from the trailer of the vehicle.
An investigation into the incident, which took place on 10 November 2014, found the forklift had been overloaded, and that visiting delivery drivers were not kept at a safe distance from the loading and unloading operations.
Howden Joinery Ltd of Portman Square, London pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
In addition to the fine, the company was ordered to pay costs of £33,902.
Speaking after the hearing, Health & Safety Executive inspector Steven Boyd said: “Standing too close to where loading or unloading work is being carried out can put people in harm’s way so people, such as delivery drivers, should be in a position of safety when forklift trucks are operating.
“This tragic incident could have been avoided if Howden Joinery Ltd had implemented a safe procedure to ensure that pedestrians were kept at a safe distance during loading and unloading work.
“Duty holders should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”
A statement issued by Howdens said: “This was a terrible and tragic accident for which we can only express our profound regret. We again offer our deepest condolences to Mr Brown’s family.”