Cargo handling company sentenced for health and safety failing

An Aberdeen-based company has admitted health and safety offences after steel pipes being carried by a forklift struck and injured an employee at Aberdeen Harbour.

North East Stevedoring Company Limited, which provides quayside, vessel, and cargo handling services at Aberdeen, Kirkwall and Lerwick harbours, pled guilty at Aberdeen Sheriff Court today to a contravention of Regulation 17(1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and section 33(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £12,000 after the incident at Clipper Quay.

The court heard that on 13th May 2013 Christopher Smith was directing the loading of steel pipes at Clipper Quay. While walking back to the ship from where the pipes were stowed, he was struck on the lower back by the end of a load of pipes being forklifted to the quayside. The impact threw him to the ground and resulted in fractures of the lumbar spine and a fracture of the left shoulder.

The case was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive who found that there was no safe system of work in place at the time of the incident telling operatives how pedestrians and vehicles were to be kept apart.

The accident could have been avoided had reasonably practicable precautions been taken.

Gary Aitken, head of health and safety division said: “The failing on the part of North East Stevedoring Company Limited to have in place a system to prevent risk of injury to pedestrians on the quay lead to the severe injury of Christopher Smith.

“The risk of a collision between a forklift truck and a pedestrian was foreseeable and entirely avoidable.

“Since this incident the company has put into practice safe systems of work and revised instructions for employees involved in loading operations.

“Hopefully this prosecution and conviction will remind other employers that they will be held to account for their failure to fulfil their health and safety obligations.”