Published: 12:00, 09 May 2014
A forklift truck driver has been prosecuted after a teenager was crushed by a half tonne heater.
The 18-year-old worker, who has not been named, needed reconstructive surgery after suffering a fractured shoulder, shin and ankle.
The horror accident happened after he was asked to hold the heater in place on the forks of a truck at a manufacturing company in Maidstone in June last year.
Now truck driver Stephen Bellingham, 49, from Larkfield, has appeared in court after a Health and Safety Executive investigation found he acted dangerously.
Maidstone magistrates heard the unit had been removed from a factory building and placed next to a skip that he wanted to access.
He managed to manoeuvre the unit onto the forks of the truck, but noted it was unstable and asked a passing colleague to help steady the load.
"The young worker's ordeal should serve as a powerful reminder to all employees, particularly those in control of potentially dangerous machinery, to fully consider the consequences of their actions..." - HSE inspector Kevin Golding
The co-worker held it in place, but as it was lifted it slid off and fell - landing on top of him because he unable to move away.
The court was told that had the lift been properly planned and managed, an alternative, safer method could have been found.
Bellingham, of Brooklands Road, was fined £270 after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The penalty was low to reflect the fact he had lost his job after the incident and is struggling financially, the court heard.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Kevin Golding said the young worker had been lucky to have regained his mobility.
He said: "This incident demonstrates all too clearly that a single poor decision – on this occasion asking an inexperienced colleague to stand in a dangerous position to steady a large, heavy and unstable load – can have devastating consequences.
"The young worker's ordeal should serve as a powerful reminder to all employees, particularly those in control of potentially dangerous machinery, to fully consider the consequences of their actions. Stephen Bellingham failed to do this.
"All lifting operations should be properly planned and assessed, and where a loadappears to be unstable the operation must be stopped immediately to consider appropriate restraints or alternative methods."
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