Health & Safety News

News added on 04.03.2019

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Competence

Training failures led to catastrophic brain injuries

An agency worker was seriously injured on his first day at work as a delivery driver. What training was he given, and was it enough?

The 27-year-old agency worker attended a brief induction on his first day working for a distribution company as a multi-drop delivery driver. When he started his round, he was unable to fulfil the second drop, consisting of twelve beer kegs, because the address was incorrect.

He moved on to another delivery and used a pallet truck to manoeuvre the beer kegs on the lorry so that he could access the next load. He fell backwards from the raised tail lift onto the road and several kegs of beer fell and struck him. He sustained a traumatic brain injury and facial fractures.

The HSE found that the agency worker had no previous experience of operating the type of pallet truck or tail lift involved in the incident. He was not given any practical training in how to use the machinery safely, nor was he made aware of safe working practices regarding the use of the pallet truck on a tail lift. The distribution company had failed to check the agency worker’s competence and previous experience, and therefore did not provide him with adequate training to carry out the work.

H&M Distribution Limited pleaded guilty to breaching its duty to safeguard the agency worker under s.3(1) Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay costs of over £7,200.

This employer failed to check that the agency worker knew how to operate the relevant machinery, leaving a crucial gap in his training. To ensure that workers are competent to do the job, employers must check the person’s experience of both the activities and equipment involved, then provide any necessary training to enable the work to be carried out safely.

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