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Fatal accident in warehouse

Posted in: Workplace Injuries Wrongful & Accidental Death 

Employers are failing to effectively manage the risks facing workers in the storage, warehousing and road haulage sector, according to the Health and Safety Executive.

A recently reported fatal accident in a Corby warehouse provides an all too real example of how serious the consequences of these failings can be.

Fatal accident

The incident concerned forty-four-year-old Desanka Todorovic, who had entered the warehouse to collect flat-pack boxes. She was standing next to some racking as a forklift truck brought down some pallets.

Sadly, the racking holding the packaging collapsed and she was crushed by falling heavy boxes. She sustained multiple personal injuries and died shortly afterwards.

Dangers of storage and warehousing

The dangers of working in the storage, warehousing and road haulage industries are well documented. Figures from the HSE show that during 2009/10 there were reports of over 8,500 work related accidents. Almost 1,600 of these accidents were classified as major injuries such as fractures and amputations.

The most common types of accidents occurring in these sectors are:

Employer failings

In this case, an investigation into the incident carried out by the HSE found that the racking holding the boxes had not been sufficiently maintained, and that there were important locking pins missing. The investigation also found that the company had failed to properly control the risks to employees within the warehouse.

HSE Inspector Roger Amery explained that had the company erected its racking properly and then kept it well maintained, the incident could have been avoided.

Virtually all industries use racking in one form or another and I hope that this case will serve as a reminder that attention to detail is crucial when erecting, maintaining and inspecting racking to ensure its integrity,” he added.

Not an isolated incident

The death of Ms Todorovic is not an isolated event. In a similar type of incident, Mr Welka, a worker in a textile firm, was killed when he was crushed by falling bales of rags.

The firm had chosen to stack the bales in vertical columns, rather than in a much safer tiered system, and therefore the piles were inherently unstable, said the HSE, commenting after the firm was sentenced.

When a forklift truck driver began to remove some of the bales the column collapsed, and two of the bales fell on to Mr Welka, who was standing at the other side of the column.

After the incident, the company began to stack bales in the recommended tiered system, and implemented greater controls on the movement of pedestrians within the warehouse, but this was too late to save Mr Welka’s life.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.


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