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Two men working at the Vickers Industrial Estate in Lancaster wanted to fix a streetlight, but evidently did not have the right equipment to do so. They did not have the means to reach a fixture that hung some 9 metres above the ground. So what did they do? They improvised – with a forklift truck, 15 wooden pallets, and a metal cage. A passer-by captured the incident on video. Unfortunately for the men, both were prosecuted and ordered to pay fines of £8,000 each.

The forklift operator and his co-worker, ages 69 and 44 respectively, rigged up the forklift by stacking 15 wooden pallets on the forks and securing them together with a single ratchet strap. They then placed a metal cage, originally intended to be installed on a lift truck, on top of the pallets. No safety harness was used by the 44-year-old worker who climbed into the cage to work on the light. There were also no barriers deployed on the ground to prevent pedestrians from getting too close to the work site.

A representative from the Lancaster City Council called the improvised lift platform both ‘precarious’ and ‘reckless’. Prosecution of the pair was severe in light of the fact that the older man had previously been warned about the risks associated with working at height. He had also been advised about workplace health and safety.

Forklift Operator Training

Responsibility for the incident rests solely with the forklift operator and his co-worker. Both were fully aware of the risks and ramifications of doing what they did, and both were aware of UK regulations regarding working at height. The council’s investigation determined ‘wilful failures to adequately protect persons from serious risk of injury and potential loss of life’ occurred during the incident.

To see the video evidence is to truly understand how dangerous industrial equipment can be when it is not used in accordance with the law. Moreover, whether or not one agrees that the actions of these two men presented a serious risk to both of them, the law is the law. The UK has very strict regulations when it comes to working at height.

The story also underscores the need for comprehensive forklift operator training for all UK workers who operate such equipment. At this time, there is no special forklift driving licence offered or required, but that does not mean operators should be put to work without the necessary safety training. Quite to the contrary, the speed and pace of modern business indicates that all operators should be sufficiently trained and supervised.

If you are looking for training for your forklift operators, the HGV Training Centre can help. Forklift operator training is just one of the many services we provide at more than 45 facilities around the UK. We can train individual drivers or your entire workforce. Our training is fast, effective and affordable for both individuals and company operators. A forklift certificate is issued upon the successful completion of training.


  1. Lancaster Guardian – https://www.lancasterguardian.co.uk/news/how-many-pallets-does-it-take-to-make-a-health-and-safety-breach-1-7052115


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