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Eagle Freight Terminal Ltd., an Ipswich-based freight logistics company, was recently fined by the Ipswich Magistrates’ Court after a forklift accident left a worker with a broken back. The accident occurred back in January of 2012.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), an investigation into the accident revealed the forklift in question hit a pothole and lost its cargo. One of the pallets toppled onto a lorry driver standing nearby, causing serious injuries, including multiple fractures of the vertebrae.

The driver missed several weeks of work and, more than a year later, is still restricted to light duty. He is unable to perform any strenuous tasks without discomfort and pain. The court took this into consideration, as well as the company’s history, when issuing its ruling.

Documents show numerous deficiencies in the yard and operational practices observed at Eagle Freight. The company was cited on several counts and ordered to take remedial action. Apparently, the condition of the yard is something that had been brought to the company’s attention in the past.

In ordering the fines the Magistrates Court hopes to compel Eagle Freight to address the problems. The order includes a £50,000 fine, £4500 in costs, and a £120 surcharge for the victim.

Safe Conditions a Must

This story serves as a reminder that safe conditions are a must in any freight yard. Beginning with the condition of the yard itself, companies need to be proactive in making sure potholes and other damage is repaired immediately. Allowing forklifts to operate in a yard with unstable surfaces is just too dangerous.

In terms of forklift drivers, proper training is necessary to teach them how to identify potentially hazardous situations so they can be avoided. It was likely a combination of factors that led to this accident rather than a single action taken by the driver. Between the potholes, how the pallets were being carried, and how the load was balanced, several things could have been addressed.

Lastly, maintaining proper distance between forklifts and other workers is essential in any freight-handling environment. Regardless of the forklift training the driver may or may not have received, a lorry driver should not have been close enough to be injured in an accident. Eagle Freight was ordered by the courts to put policies in place that will better control both forklift traffic and pedestrians.

Companies all across the UK with forklifts need to avail themselves of quality forklift training like that which we provide at the HGV Training Centre. We teach drivers important skills like manoeuvring in and out of tight spaces, recognising and avoiding safety hazards, and safely loading and unloading cargo. It is all part of our commitment to ensuring the safe operation of forklifts.

If you are looking to begin a career as a forklift operator, you can avail yourself of our training as well. Just get in touch with us whenever you are ready. We’ll have you trained, certified, and looking for work before you know it.


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