A North London meat wholesalers has been sentenced for operating a fault-ridden forklift truck and trying to deceive safety inspectors by forging a positive examination report on the vehicle.
MIB United Meat Ltd, of Enfield, Middlesex, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at Westminster Magistrates’ Court (3 Sept) after admitting three breaches of safety legislation.
The court heard that the offences resulted from a routine health and safety inspection at their premises in Stockingswater Lane, Enfield, on 8 March 2013.
During the visit, an HSE inspector asked to see the vehicle examination records for the company’s 2.5-tonne counterbalance forklift truck. A document was later emailed to the inspector but appeared to be – and was later proven to be – a fraud.
HSE found the forklift truck had never been examined, as required by safety rules for lifting equipment, since being purchased in August 2011. A specialist mechanical inspector from HSE, who examined the forklift in April 2013, found more than 40 faults, including some that could have endangered its operator.
HSE served a prohibition notice on MIB United Meat Ltd to stop any use of the vehicle until it was safe to use.
MIB was fined a total of £18,000 and ordered to pay £2314 in full costs for single breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974; the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Tahir Mortuza said:
“MIB United Meat Ltd was required by law to make sure its forklift truck was maintained regularly and properly examined to allow the identification of safety-critical defects. It failed to do this and the vehicle was allowed to deteriorate to the point of being riddled with faults.
“It compounded this failure with a blatant attempt to deceive HSE by forging documentation purporting to be an examination record. This is a serious offence and demonstrates that the company was willing to expose its employees to the risk of serious injury or even death.”
For information and advice on forklift trucks and on LOLER regulations, visit the HSE website: http://www.hse.gov.uk
Notes to Editors:
- The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
- Section 33(1)(m) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It is an offence for a person with intent to deceive, to use a document issued or authorised to be issued under any of the relevant statutory provisions or required for any purpose thereunder or to make or have in his possession a document so closely resembling any such document as to be calculated to deceive.”
- Regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: “Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.”
- Regulation 9(3) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 states: “Every employer shall ensure that lifting equipment which is exposed to conditions causing deterioration which is liable to result in dangerous situations is (a) thoroughly examined (i) in the case of lifting equipment for lifting persons or an accessory for lifting, at least every 6 months; (ii)in the case of other lifting equipment, at least every 12 months; or (iii) in either case, in accordance with an examination scheme; and (iv) each time that exceptional circumstances which are liable to jeopardise the safety of the lifting equipment have occurred; and (b) if appropriate for the purpose, is inspected by a competent person at suitable intervals between thorough examinations, to ensure that health and safety conditions are maintained and that any deterioration can be detected and remedied in good time.”