Lift truck driver sacked and prosecuted for safety failing

Prosecutions of individual employees are uncommon, but as this case demonstrates they do still occur.

The circumstances were that a driver, Stephen Bellingham from Larkfield, Kent, had asked an 18-year-old colleague to hold a heater unit in place whilst it was being raised on the forks of his lift truck. The load, which weighed half a tonne, toppled onto the helper and left him requiring reconstructive surgery for multiple fractures of his shoulder, shin bone and ankle.

This was an experienced driver who should have known better and was acting outside of any instructions from the company. The prosecution was made because an investigation found that the driver had taken it upon himself to act in an inherently unsafe manner. He had failed to assess the risks and possible consequences of his actions.

Maidstone Magistrates’ Court fined Mr Bellingham a nominal £270 because he is currently unemployed after being summarily dismissed for his gross misconduct, and cannot claim benefits.

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