Company fined £27,000 after worker loses foot in forklift truck accident

A Perthshire-based company has been fined £27,000 for health and safety failures after a worker lost part of a leg in a forklift truck accident.

John Brodie, 65, suffered the life-changing injury in April 2019 at the premises owned by Broomhall Feeds near the village of Inchture. 

The company, which stores and sells animal feed, pled guilty at Perth Sheriff Court to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. 

The procurator fiscal depute told the court that on 11 April 2019, Mr Brodie was paired up with a colleague to prepare packages and loads for deliveries in the company's warehouse. 

Mr Brodie was in charge of the “board”, which holds information detailing which package to collect and its location while his colleague worked the forklift truck. 

While this work was ongoing, the driver reversed the truck, unaware his co-worker was behind him. The truck ran over his colleague’s foot and pushed him into racking. 

Mr Brodie was treated at the factory premises by ambulance and a helicopter trauma team. 

He suffered devastating injuries which resulted in amputation of his right leg below the knee on arrival at the hospital. Mr Brodie, who recently settled a civil action for damages against his former employer, has been unable to work since the accident. 

The prosecutor said that at the time of the accident there appeared to be no formal traffic management system in place within the racking area and the forklift truck driver, who had only joined the company a few days prior to the incident, was not given proper forklift truck training. 

During the investigation it was found that the company had failed to make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for the use of forklift trucks at their premises.  

They had also failed to ensure forklift truck operators had satisfactorily completed formal training or put in place a suitable traffic management plan to separate vehicles and pedestrians and minimise the risk people being struck by forklift trucks. 

Since the accident Broomhall Limited has employed two external health and safety companies to improve their health and safety system.  

This included provision for training for lift trucks operators, reviewing use of pedestrians and the introduction of one-way system and other control measures. 

Debbie Carroll, who leads on health and safety investigations for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), said: 

"This life-changing injury could have been avoided if appropriate training had been carried out prior to this incident and suitable traffic-management arrangements had been put in place. 

“By not taking these steps, Broomhall Ltd put their employee at unacceptable risk. 

“This prosecution should remind other employers that failing to take reasonable health and safety precautions can have serious consequences and they will be held accountable for this failure.”