£100,000 fines over workman's forklift death plunge

TWO companies have been fined a total £100,000 after the death of a Rotherham maintenance worker who fell from a forklift truck at a Macclesfield factory.

Millennium Rubber, of Chester, was handed a £90,000 bill and Sheffield-based United Crane Services a £10,000 fine after 60-year-old Martin Denton fell from the truck to the floor four metres below.

Mr Denton, had been lifted in a metal container, known as a stillage, when it slipped off the truck and fell.

He died in hospital later the same day from head injuries.

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Millennium Rubber International, which produces rubber surfaces for running tracks and children's playgrounds, and United Crane Services were both prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at Millennium’s factory at Nab Works, Long Lane, Pott Shrigley.

Chester Crown Court heard on Friday that United Crane Services had been hired to repair an overhead crane at the factory on June 10, 2006, but had allowed Denton to be lifted in a container designed for materials rather than people.

The HSE investigation found that it had been standard practice for Millennium Rubber to use containers and pallets on forklift trucks to lift workers, despite neither being designed, nor safe, for that purpose.

HSE principal inspector Tanya Stewart said that the father-of-three died because neither firm followed basic health and safety procedures for working at height.

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“He should never have been expected to stand in a metal stillage, balanced dangerously on the forks of a forklift truck.

“The companies simply did not consider the risks Mr Denton might face if he carried out the repair work to the overhead crane in this way.

“They should have made sure a safe system for the work was in place before allowing him to start.

“It’s disgraceful that the practice of lifting workers on forklift trucks had taken place on many other occasions.

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“Sadly, it was therefore almost inevitable that someone would be seriously injured or killed.”

Millennium Rubber was fined £90,000 and ordered to pay £21,411 in prosecution costs, while United Crane Services, of Claywheels Lane in Sheffield, was fined £10,000 with costs of £5,000.

The HSE said that a total of 27 workers were killed and more than 3,800 suffered major injuries in the manufacturing industry in Great Britain in 2010/11.

Information on preventing injuries is available at www.hse.gov.uk/manufacturing.

AN ACCIDENT THAT SHOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED . . . Martin Denton's widow speaks to the Advertiser. See this week's paper.