Firms fined £50k over forklift tragedy

PUBLISHED: 06:32 24 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:35 05 July 2010

Two companies have been ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £50,000 for breaches of health and safety law after an employee died when a forklift truck he was repairing fell on top of him.

Two companies have been ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £50,000 for breaches of health and safety law after an employee died when a forklift truck he was repairing fell on top of him.

Waveney Fork Trucks Ltd and Lift Truck Rentals Ltd, of Lowestoft, admitted failing to ensure the health and safety of their employees after 31-year-old mechanic Carl Nunn was crushed under a forklift truck nearly three years ago.

Sentencing the companies, which share the same management, Judge John Devaux said they accepted that risk assessments carried out on employees working under fork lift trucks at the time of the accident had been “insufficient” and had since been improved.

Fining each company £16,000, and ordering them to each pay £9,000 costs, he said the fine for Waveney Fork Trucks Ltd would have been £30,000 and the costs £15,000 if it had not been for the company's current poor financial situation.

Members of Mr Nunn's family were at Ipswich Crown Court for the hearing and afterwards his father Terry Nunn said no fine could bring his son back.

He added: “Even if it was a fine of £25,000, £50,000 or £1m it would not change things for us. We as a family just hope that lessons have been learnt and that no-one else has to go through what has happened to us.”

He thanked the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for its investigation, which had resulted in the prosecution.

He described his son, who lived in Carlton Colville, near Lowestoft as “one of the most kind and special people you were ever likely to meet”.

Alison Pople, prosecuting, told the court that Mr Nunn joined Waveney Fork Trucks in 2005 and on March 2, 2006 had gone to Sea Transport at Ransomes Europark, in Ipswich, to repair a faulty forklift truck. However, he had been unable to carry out that repair and had ended up trying to fix another vehicle while he was there.

The court heard that the alarm was raised after a worker discovered Mr Nunn's body under the forklift truck with blood coming out of his head. Paramedics and an air ambulance were called to the scene but medical staff were unable to save his life.

Miss Pople said it seemed likely Mr Nunn had used a jack to raise the forklift truck and he had then used two blocks of wood to support the vehicle. While he was working on the vehicle, the jack had become displaced resulting in the forklift truck dropping on to the timber blocks and fatally injuring Mr Nunn.

Dominic Kay, for Waveney Fork Trucks and Lift Truck Rentals, said they had co-operated with the HSE investigation and had improved procedures since the accident.

He said the companies had a great deal of remorse and regret for what happened and wished to express that regret to Mr Nunn's family.

He added that Waveney Fork Trucks had financial difficulties and 17 people had been made redundant since November.

At an inquest into Mr Nunn's death, held last August, a jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

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