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Forklift driver killed during loading operation

15 July 2024

AN OLDHAM-based haulage company has been fined more than £85,000 after a fork lift truck driver was killed while loading a heavy goods vehicle (HGV).

Ian Dawson, 60, of Rochdale, was loading pallets onto the HGV at Chorlton Express Transport Limited on 19 November 2020. As he was doing this, the HGV moved forward, causing the fork lift truck to overturn. Mr Dawson, who was not wearing a seat belt, was trapped beneath the vehicle, and died as a result of his injuries.

His partner Jane Medhurst, described the last moment she saw him, before they both left for work on that fateful day.

“We told each other, ‘love you’, kissed and said, ‘see you later’.

“What happened that day was so catastrophic. It has drastically changed my life. I still find it difficult to cope with the loss of Ian.

“He loved his food and months after his death I still found myself shopping for him. Thinking oh that’s one of Ian’s favourites I will buy that. Even though I knew he was not here anymore.

“Although I now realise Ian will never come home again and I have now had to move out of the house we shared, it still haunts me that he is gone. It was so sudden and unexpected that I never got a chance to say goodbye to him.”

Ensure drivers wear seatbelts

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Chorlton Express Transport Limited of Meek Street in Oldham, had failed to put sufficient safe systems of work in place regarding vehicle movements, or to ensure that all fork lift truck drivers were compelled to wear seat belts. A court heard that, had Mr Dawson been wearing a seat belt, it is highly likely that this would have saved his life.

His daughter Caitlin, who was just 19 when her dad died, said it had ‘turned her life upside down’.

“I can still remember getting the phone call that my dad had passed like it was yesterday. At just 19 years old when it happened, and it being the first time losing someone, it felt like my life had turned upside down, especially in the brutal terms it happened.

“To this day, I still sit and cry and the fact that I will never get to say goodbye to my dad. I will never be able to speak to him and he will never be able to take me shopping again, one of the most fond memories I have of him.

“It has been one of the most traumatising experiences of my life and I am still suffering every day because of it.”

Need to consider risks

The company pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were fined £86,710 and was ordered to pay £5,903 costs at a hearing at Manchester Magistrates Court on 17 April 2024.

After the hearing HSE inspector Jane Carroll said: “The failures of this company has left a family without the man they loved.

“The importance of wearing seatbelts cannot be stressed enough.

The failures meant the company exposed employees, and others, to the risk of being struck or caught by workplace vehicles.

“All work settings that use a forklift truck to load or unload goods, need to consider the risks arising from their use, and implement adequate measures to ensure the safety of those involved in these activities.”

The prosecution was brought by HSE enforcement lawyer Matthew Reynolds and paralegal officer Lucy Gallagher.